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Acevedo v. Township of Edgewater Park Board of Education

August 17, 2009

CARMEN ACEVEDO AND JESUS ARTEAGA, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
TOWNSHIP OF EDGEWATER PARK BOARD OF EDUCATION, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT, AND TOWNSHIP OF EDGEWATER PARK; COUNTY OF BURLINGTON; STATE OF NEW JERSEY AND TOWNSHIP OF EDGEWATER PARK MUNICIPAL AUTHORITIES, DEFENDANTS.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Burlington County, Docket No. L-299-07.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted August 4, 2009

Before Judges Lihotz and Baxter.

Plaintiffs Carmen Acevedo and Jesus Arteaga appeal from a September 29, 2008 order granting summary judgment and dismissing their personal injury complaint against defendant, Township of Edgewater Park Board of Education.*fn1 On appeal, plaintiff maintains that the motion judge erred when he concluded that her injuries failed to satisfy the requirements of the Tort Claims Act. We affirm.

I.

On January 31, 2005, plaintiff slipped on a small patch of ice in a school parking lot owned by defendant Edgewater Park Board of Education. A February 7, 2005 MRI ordered by her treating physician, Dr. Eric Farrell, disclosed a full thickness tear of plaintiff's quadriceps tendon of her right leg. On February 15, 2005, Dr. Farrell performed a surgical repair of plaintiff's tendon, and he continued to treat her thereafter.

On March 1, 2005, Farrell noted that plaintiff had no complaints and was using the knee immobilizer that he prescribed for her following the surgery. He also noted that the surgical incision was "well healed." His clinical impression was that plaintiff was "doing well approximately two weeks status post . . . injury and surgery."

During plaintiff's next office visit on March 29, 2008, Farrell again commented that plaintiff was "without any complaints" but was reporting "some pain in the knee." He commented that she was "otherwise doing well." He did observe that plaintiff had some atrophy of the tendon, and he recommended physical therapy "to help wean her out of the walker."

After plaintiff's next visit to Farrell on July 11, 2005, he observed that plaintiff was no longer using the walker and was able to ambulate with a cane, which he commented was not medically required but was simply the result of plaintiff's "not feel[ing] confident when she [was] walking outside long distances." By the time of plaintiff's visit on February 28, 2006, Farrell observed that plaintiff had no locking of her knee or "giving way." He observed that she had full passive range of motion and could "actively extend to 0° as well." His only positive finding was atrophy of the tendon. He concluded his report of the July 11, 2005 visit by noting that "her tendon [was] healed and she should [have felt] confident that nothing [was] going to happen to it." He noted that she did "need to gain confidence and strength," which he opined she would gain by returning to physical therapy.

Plaintiff's last visit to Farrell on August 7, 2006, resulted in the following findings pertaining to plaintiff's successful recovery:

[Plaintiff] has full range of motion in the knee, 0° of extension to approximately 130° of flexion. She has excellent quad strength. Her motor sensory exam is normal. She does have some tenderness in the area of the lumbar spine, L5 area. She does have some pain with straight leg raise testing. She ambulates . . . with a cane. There are no motor sensory deficits.

It was explained to [plaintiff] that her quad tendon rupture has healed nicely.

She does not have much scar and she has excellent motion and good strength. She is actually quite surprised on ...


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