MILLBURN, NJ—Attorneys James Michael Foerst, Esq. and Michael Cuellar, Esq. of Millburn’s Spector Foerst & Associates, reached agreement to resolve a motorcycle injury case for $5.35 million. Their client Pedro E. Martins was injured July 4, 2017, when his motorcycle was hit by a car driven by an employee of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.
Martins was traveling just two blocks from his home with the green light in his favor. The defendant was making a left turn and said he did not see Martins. Neither driver was impaired by alcohol or using their cell phones at the time of the accident.
Judge Jamie Happas, P.J.S.C., Presiding Judge Superior Court, Ret., presided over the mediation and facilitated resolution. The settlement comprises coverage from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and Essex County, the State of New Jersey, and excess coverage from Lloyds of London.
Michael H. Freeman, Esq., of Greenberg Dauber Epstein & Tucker, P.C., served as attorney for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Newark. Betsy Gale Ramos, Esq., of Capehart & Scatchard, P.A., Mt. Laurel, NJ, represented the defendant driver, and Alan Ruddy, Esq., the Office of the Essex County Counsel, represented the County of Essex.
Martins suffers severe physical limitations which prevent him from engaging in activities with his three daughters, twin 7-year-old girls and a 9-year-old sister. The accident has also prevented Martins from continuing to work in a job he loved.
Martins, a former officer for the U.S. Immigration and Customs (ICE) Agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, investigated serious cross-border crime and immigration cases. He captured murderers and other dangerous criminals involved in drug trafficking and human smuggling. He is out of work on a permanent medical disability. The physical aftereffects of his injuries may prevent him from fulfilling the requirements of any job again.
When Martins arrived at the hospital, he had only moments of life left because of the fluid that filled his lungs. In the days following, his doctors, family, and friends continued to fear for his survival. He was in a coma for 10 days and in the intensive care unit for almost a month. He has been through rehab in which he learned to walk again and undergone 18 surgeries since his initial hospitalization. One was a tracheostomy that attempted to open his air passage which was blocked by scar tissue related to injuries sustained in the accident.
Though he lived with a tracheostomy tube for a year and three months, his airways have been reduced to a size not much larger than an M & M. He now requires reconstructive surgery on his throat. The restriction causes him to experience breathing difficulties during strenuous tasks and even sometimes when speaking. Many activities of everyday living also have been significantly curtailed because of his respiratory limitations. These include simple things like teaching his 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old twin girls how to ride a bike, throw and catch a ball, play tag or run.
He also limps and was rendered legally blind in his right eye.
“Money alone cannot return Pete to the way life was before,” said Foerst. “But the settlement certainly ensures that despite his limitations, he can provide for his daughters with all the things parents want for their kids and continue his volunteer work to help others get some of their lives back.”
“While the defendant may not have acted with malicious intent that July night five years ago, his failure to make a thorough observation before making a turn has changed Pete’s life,” said Foerst. “This resolution affords some relief for that tragedy and will help Pete find the best in his life now.”