NEW YORK, Aug 1 (Reuters) - A woman spoiled critical
evidence in her personal injury lawsuit by undergoing spinal
surgery before completing court-ordered medical examinations, a
New York judge ruled Tuesday.
Queens County Supreme Court Justice Charles Markey dismissed
Susanna Mangione's lawsuit, saying that her decision to undergo
spinal surgery had destroyed defendants' opportunity to
independently verify injuries Mangione claims she suffered in a
2009 car accident.
"Considering the irreparable prejudice to defendants of the
spoliation, where Mangione's surgery has eviscerated the means
of defense doctors and lawyers of tracing the causal connection
of Mangione's ailments to the most recent accident, and the
intentional thwarting of three court orders, dismissal is the
appropriate sanction," Markey wrote.
The judge said the issue was one of first impression under
New York law.
According to the ruling, Mangione was involved in a car
accident in 2009 while riding in a taxi in Queens.
The following year, she filed a personal injury lawsuit
against taxi operator Ramabel Limo Inc and driver Glener
Simbana, as well as Jules Jacobs, the driver of the car that
collided with the taxi.
Mangione was ordered at least three times to undergo an
independent medical examination, or IME, the ruling said. She
never did, and when an IME scheduled for Feb. 22 was adjourned
to March 7, Mangione went ahead and had elective spinal surgery
on Feb. 27, according to the ruling.
Lawyers for Mangione argued that she had previously
undergone spinal surgery in 2010, following the taxi accident
and an earlier bus accident. She also underwent four earlier
IMEs, her lawyers from Chopra & Nocerino argued.
But Markey said his review of Mangione's legal filings
suggested that the earlier IMEs dealt with w hether she was
entitled to no-fault first-party benefits, not with the
legitimacy of her claims of "serious injury" under New York's
Insurance Law, the key claim in the suit and a requirement to
"No reasonable person would deprive a plaintiff of
life-saving surgery or any operation that would curb intense
pain and alleviate injury," Markey wrote. "Plaintiff has not
demonstrated anything or proffered any evidence on this issue."
A lawyer for Mangione, Alex Nocerino, called it a "terrible
"We're exploring all of our options, including motion to
re-argue or appeal," he said.
Lawyers for the other parties did not immediately return a
request for comment Wednesday.
The case is Mangione v. Jacobs et al, New York State Supreme
Court, Queens County, No. 7842/2010.
For Mangione: Sameer Chopra and Alex Nocerino of Chopra &
For Jules Jacobs: Debra Malone and Kevin Flores of Mendolia
For Ramabel Limo and Glener Simbana: Ira Goldstein of
O'Connor O'Connor Hintz & Deveney.
(Reporting by Jessica Dye)
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