On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Docket No. L-0323-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Lihotz and Ashrafi.
Defendant Daniel R. Ford appeals from a jury verdict finding him negligent and awarding damages of $250,000 to plaintiff Kweku Afriyie-Addo, who suffered personal injuries in an August 31, 2006 automobile accident. On appeal, defendant seeks a new trial arguing:
THE TRIAL JUDGE ERRED IN HIS REFUSAL TO STRIKE THE TESTIMONY OF DR. HALIOUA AS "NET OPINION."
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ITS REFUSAL TO GRANT A NEW TRIAL ON THE ISSUE OF DAMAGES OR APPLY REMITTITUR, AS THE JURY VERDICT WAS EXCESSIVE IN AMOUNT.
We have considered these arguments in light of the record and applicable law. We affirm.
These facts surrounding the automobile accident are not disputed. At approximately 7:30 to 8:00 p.m., plaintiff was driving his pick-up truck southbound on the Garden State Parkway in Cranford at approximately milepost 136.6, when his vehicle was struck in the rear by the vehicle driven by defendant forcing his truck into the rear of the vehicle ahead of him, driven by Jimmy Tom. Defendant explained he was in the right lane when an unidentified vehicle went off the side of the road onto the grass. Because defendant was watching the phantom vehicle, he did not observe plaintiff slowing. When he looked ahead, defendant was unable to stop his vehicle before it struck plaintiff's vehicle. Defendant stated the phantom car left the scene.
At trial, Tom confirmed the existence of the phantom vehicle. He described he saw the car go across five lanes and off the road, striking the reflectors on the shoulder and then left the scene.
Defendant concedes the evidence supports the jury's finding that he was negligent. He disputes the sufficiency of the evidence of plaintiff's damages. In this regard, plaintiff admitted he declined medical assistance and felt no discomfort at the scene. The video from the dashboard mounted camera on the patrol car of the State Trooper who responded to the accident was played for the jury. The video shows plaintiff entering his truck a couple of times to remove items and at one point he is jogging a short distance to speak to someone.
Plaintiff testified he experienced pain in his back and neck the day following the accident. On September 2, 2006, plaintiff went to the emergency room, where he was x-rayed and prescribed medication for pain. Afterward, he consulted counsel. Three weeks after the accident, on ...