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Daily Record reports that a Morris County jury has awarded $2.5 million in compensation to a classical pianist from New York who suffered an elbow injury in a crash in Parsippany and can no longer play at the high level he had mastered.

The jury that heard the negligence/personal injury case before Superior Court Judge David Ironson in Morristown earlier this month voted 6-1 to award William J. Finizio Jr., 47, of New York City $2.5 million as reasonable compensation for his pain and suffering, disability, impairment and loss of enjoyment of life as it related to an injury to his left elbow.

Finizio’s lawyer, G. Stone, said the award was against motorist Ilija Lumbarda of Rutherford, N.J., who was represented by attorney Mario Colitti, an attorney for Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. who could not immediately be reached. Stone said that Liberty Mutual had not wanted to settle before trial for the insurance policy limits.

Stone said his case focused on Finizio’s passion for playing the piano, how it “defined him as a person” and how the elbow injury has lessened his ability to play classical piano, as well as electric guitar and other percussion instruments. The jury had to evaluate the impact on Finizio’s life of his diminished enjoyment in making music, Stone said.

A key witness at trial was Finizio’s mentor, Seymour Bernstein, an 88-year-old nationally-known pianist, composer and teacher at New York University. Bernstein is the subject of a documentary directed by actor Ethan Hawke called “Seymour: An Introduction.” Other witnesses for Finizio included an occupational therapist and orthopedic surgeon. Stone said that Bernstein described for jurors hand and arm positioning for a pianist and how emotion is conveyed through the musician’s touch of the keyboard.

“This was someone who played at a very high level.  Playing piano defined him as a person, this was not a hobby. He lived and breathed the piano,” Stone said of Finizio. Playing piano is not his primary job, however, and he did not file a wage loss claim in his lawsuit, the lawyer said.

Finizio was involved in a two-vehicle accident in Parsippany on Nov. 20, 2011 around 5:30 p.m. on Route 80.  According to court records, Finizio told police he was driving west down a single lane when Lumbarda’s vehicle came out from between barrels in a construction area and struck his vehicle. Lumbarda told police he was in front of Finizio’s car in a middle lane but unclear where he was due to construction work. He stated he went left to switch lanes to get into the single lane when Finizio tried to pass him and struck his vehicle.

The police report reflected that no injuries were reported by either driver at the time, no tickets were issued and both vehicles were towed, court records said.

Stone said that Finizio had actually sustained an injury to his left elbow and both sides stipulated at trial that the injury involved tears to three separate tendons and one ligament in the left elbow. But the defendant had disputed the extent and consequences of the injuries, court records said.

Stone called the verdict unusual in that jurors were able to “connect” with Finizio and understand the importance of the piano in his life.

“The jury connected with what his losses were, with what Mr. Finizio deemed most passionate about his life,” Stone said.

Settlement

 

 

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Whether you were a pedestrian, a bicyclist, the occupant of train, or car, motorcycle, boat or any motor vehicle, or have been hurt at an amusement park or at your workplace, bitten by a dog or injured in a fall down accident, you should immediately call one of the experienced personal injury attorneys at

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