Fuel Tanker vs. Car Accident Yields $3.6M Settlement

A woman who claimed she sustained debilitating injuries when her car was struck by a fuel tanker in a gas station parking lot was paid a $3.6 million settlement in her Essex County suit, Arias v. DOQ Transport.

In February 2013, Maria Arias was the Gulf station at Paulison Avenue and Comfort Place in Clifton when the truck, which had just finished a delivery, backed up into the driver’s side of Arias’ car and pushed it 10 feet to 15 feet, stopping after a bystander alerted the truck driver, said Arias’ attorney, Damon Vespi of the Vespi Law Firm in Totowa.

The tanker truck was driven by Dan Brody, then 33, and owned by his employer, DOQ Transport Inc., according to Vespi.

Arias, currently 60, claimed the accident caused numerous spinal injuries, resulting in a three-level fusion, decompression and discectomy at the cervical level, as well as a second fusion procedure, and implantation of hardware and a permanent spinal stimulator. She is now unable to perform househould chores or work; was deemed totally disabled by the U.S. Social Security Administration; requires assistance bathing from her husband; and has headaches and pain that lead her to take over-the-counter pain medication, Vespi said.

The suit, filed in 2014, includes her husband, Adolfo Arias, as a plaintiff, and claimed medical expenses of $500,000, Vespi said.

It named DOQ Transport and 595 Petro Inc., which owned the gas station.

The defendants contested causation, contending that the truck was moving too slowly at impact to cause the injuries Arias sustained; Arias countered that she had no prior injuries, according to Vespi.

The parties were through expert discovery, and had completed several mediation sessions with retired Superior Court Judge Eugene Codey of Connell Foley in Roseland, when the matter settled on Nov. 7. DOQ agreed to pay $3.5 million; 595 Petro agreed to pay $100,000, according to Vespi, who said the sums were paid in February.

Rozaly Cohen of Gallo Vittucci Klar in Hackensack, for 595 Petro, declined to comment.

Keith Harris of Braff, Harris, Sukoneck & Maloof in Livingston entered the case on the eve of trial for DOQ. He didn’t return a call.

DOQ was represented earlier in the case by Catherine McGlone of Callahan Fusco in Roseland. McGlone is no longer with the firm; another firm lawyer did not return a call seeking comment on the settlement.

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