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The Ramos Case

Of the Legal Staff
January 28, 2013

A delivery truck driver who suffered a traumatic brain injury after a piece of a bay door on the loading dock of a South Philadelphia produce warehouse fell and struck him on the head has settled with the owner of the warehouse in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas for $2.9 million. In Ramos v. Procacci Bros., according to the plaintiff's pretrial memorandum, plaintiff Carlos Ramos, a produce delivery truck driver working for J.L. Cruz Transportation, backed his tractor-trailer into the dock at defendant Procacci Bros.' produce warehouse on June 26, 2010, and asked an employee to unlock the bay door.

Procacci Bros. warehouse manager Dan Tobin unlocked the door, but as it was opening, a top panel of the door came off its tracks and fell, striking Ramos on the head, according to the plaintiff's memorandum.

The plaintiff's memorandum alleged that the panel on the bay door at the Procacci Bros. facility had fallen before, previously striking a Procacci Bros. manager.

"The defendants knew the doors were a danger and presented an unreasonable risk of harm to others, and failed to provide warnings or affirmatively inspect and repair the doors in order to prevent future injuries," the plaintiff's memorandum said. "Further, defendants maintained a surveillance system that taped the injury occurring, but destroyed the tape and falsely denied in interrogatories that surveillance existed. Defendants also cannot produce the work order form that would have shown the repair(s) that were done."

George Binck, a manager for Procacci Bros., testified during deposition that he was aware the company did not perform preventative maintenance on the bay door at issue but said he had never been made aware by his fellow managers that there had been previous issues with the door, according to the plaintiff's memorandum.

The plaintiff's memorandum said Michael Waznak, human resources manager for Procacci Bros., stated in his verified answers to plaintiff's interrogatories that there were no cameras that would have videotaped Ramos' accident. He later testified at deposition, however, that there was a camera but the footage was destroyed.

Ramos went to Nazareth Hospital on the same day of the accident, complaining of a headache, a laceration and a hematoma on the right side of his head. He was diagnosed with a concussion by his primary care physician, Dr. Craig Marder, according to the plaintiff's memorandum.

Ramos saw Marder again on July 6, 2010, complaining of persistent headaches and received an MRI at Jeanes Hospital on July 22, which was normal, according to the plaintiff's memorandum.

Ramos continued to suffer from headaches, dizziness and an inability to focus and was referred to neurologist Dr. Craig Bogen, who determined that Ramos was suffering from depression, anxiety, forgetfulness, disorientation and head and neck pain, possibly associated with his injury, the plaintiff's memorandum said.

Bogen prescribed an antidepressant and referred Ramos to Drucker Brain Injury Center at Moss Rehabilitation, where he was seen by Dr. Jeanne Pelensky, who determined he was suffering from the late effects of a traumatic brain injury, according to the plaintiff's memorandum.

Ramos went back to Bogen in October 2010 and again in January 2011, complaining of persistent headaches, inability to concentrate and problems with short-term memory. Bogen determined that Ramos was continuing to suffer post-concussive symptoms.

A few days after another visit to Bogen in May 2011, during which Ramos complained of anxiety, depression and sexual dysfunction, Ramos went to Magee Rehabilitation Center, where he was treated by Dr. Timothy Young, who recommended cognitive screening and neuropsychological testing, the plaintiff's memorandum said.

After several more trips to see Young and persistent symptoms, including neck and back complaints, Ramos received a standardized neuropsychological evaluation by Dr. Joely Esposito, who concluded that his impairments were likely the result of his injury, according to the plaintiff's memorandum.

Plaintiffs neuroradiology expert Dr. Stephen C. Jaffe interpreted an MRI as showing a white matter lesion on Ramos' temporal lobe and opined that it was a chronic condition caused by Ramos' injury, according to the plaintiff's memorandum.

"The injuries sustained by Mr. Ramos have had a catastrophic impact not only on his health, but also on the well-being of his family, which has crumbled since the date of the accident," the plaintiff's memorandum said. "Mrs. Ruth Rivera-Ramos testified in her deposition that she married Mr. Ramos in August of 2002, they enjoyed sharing their lives together and they eventually had a child, Raylando, who was just 6 years old at the time of his father's accident. The family is no longer intact, and Mr. Ramos no longer lives with his wife and minor son at their home, but rather, lives with his mother."

Plaintiffs neurology expert Dr. Bruce H. Grossinger opined that Ramos was completely unable to work as a result of his accident.

Plaintiffs actuarial expert David L. Hopkins opined that the future lost earnings for Ramos, who was 35 at the time of his accident, ranged from about $2 million to $5.5 million depending on the calculation used, according to the plaintiff's memorandum.

Procacci Bros., in its own memorandum, argued that an MRI of Ramos' brain taken two months after his accident was normal, while a second MRI taken nearly two years later revealed white matter.

The defense further argued in its memorandum that Ramos' medical experts and treating physicians ignored the fact that Ramos suffered a prior traumatic head injury when he dove headfirst into a creek. The defense attributed Ramos' neck and back pain to this prior injury as well.

Ramos' attorney, Jonathan M. Cohen of Philadelphia, said he thought the settlement "was fair in that we were in the range of numbers that would compensate him for the loss of future earnings and pain and suffering."

Procacci Bros.' attorney, David F. White of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin in King of Prussia, Pa., could not be reached for comment at press time.