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Carlucci v. Stichman

Decided: May 2, 1958.

MARY CARLUCCI, DEBORAH CARLUCCI, AN INFANT, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
HERMAN T. STICHMAN, TRUSTEE OF THE HUDSON & MANHATTAN RAILROAD CO., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Price, Haneman and Schettino. The opinion of the court was delivered by Price, S.j.a.d.

Price

Appellant seeks to set aside as excessive verdicts of $1,500 entered against it in favor of plaintiff Valerie Carlucci, an infant by her guardian ad litem Nicholas Carlucci, and in favor of plaintiff Mary Carlucci in the sum of $4,000. Verdicts entered in favor of another minor Deborah Carlucci in the sum of $5,000 and in favor of Nicholas Carlucci the father of Valerie and Deborah and the husband of Mary are not challenged.

Appellant conceded liability at the trial. The injuries resulted from an accident in a tunnel as plaintiffs Mary, Valerie and Deborah were passengers in a train of defendant. Two trains of defendant collided.

The specific question presented is whether either of said challenged verdicts is excessive.

Appellant recognizes that the verdicts should not be disturbed unless they are so excessive in amount "as inevitably to give rise to the inference of mistake, passion, prejudice or partiality, and by that standard to be palpably against the weight of the evidence." Cabakov v. Thatcher , 37 N.J. Super. 249, 258 (App. Div. 1955); Salvato v. New Jersey Asphalt & Paving Co. , 135 N.J.L. 185 (E. & A. 1947); Hartpence v. Grouleff , 15 N.J. 545, 549 (1954); Wytupeck v. City of Camden , 25 N.J. 450, 466 (1957).

We consider initially the case of the minor, Valerie. Our review of this case is limited by the provisions of R.R. 1:5-3(a) which is as follows:

"* * * A verdict of a jury shall be set aside as against the weight of the evidence if, having given due regard to the opportunity of the trial court and the jury to pass upon the credibility of the witnesses, it clearly and convincingly appears that the verdict was the result of mistake, partiality, prejudice or passion."

The admeasurement of damages in awarding compensation for personal injuries is not an exact science. Moore v. Public

Service Coordinated Transport , 15 N.J. Super. 499, 510 (App. Div. 1951).

A study of the record in this case leads us to the conclusion that the respective verdicts in favor of Valerie Carlucci and Mary Carlucci should not be disturbed. The principles of law referable to the elements to be considered by the jury in awarding damages for the respective plaintiffs were properly and adequately outlined in the trial court's charge to the jury. In reaching this conclusion we have noted that the record discloses that as a result of the injuries she sustained Valerie suffered severe headaches, bruises and discoloration of the eye lids and left cheek, pain in both eyes, multiple contusions and abrasions of the thighs and legs, tenderness of the skull. The medical diagnosis of her condition was described by the doctor as contusions and abrasions of the thighs and post concussional syndrome. It was necessary to give her sedatives for a period of time. At the time of the trial no physical evidence of her injuries remained. Her mother however testified that the child's behavior and attitude have changed. She is afraid and clings to her mother. She worries over matters that theretofore did not seem to trouble her. The child's injuries required 16 visits to her physician from September 26, 1955 to March 15, 1956. On her discharge by the doctor his prognosis as to the outcome of the concussion was a guarded one. It is clear that the jury's award of $1,500 is not so excessive as to warrant this court in setting it aside.

Mary Carlucci, 34 years of age, mother of the minor Valerie, suffered pain and tenderness in the right axillary region; pain and tenderness in the lower right scapular region; pain in the lumbo-sacral area with some difficulty in bending; swelling, discoloration and limitation of motion of the left ankle. She had contusions, abrasions and swelling of the right elbow and a three inch laceration of the left leg; marked swelling and discoloration of the left foot and extreme nervousness. Her condition was such ...


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