Portee Suit Over Child’s Death in Crash Settles for $3.55 Million


A wrongful death and emotional distress suit over an automobile accident that killed a child in his father’s presence settled for $3.55 million on March 7, in Badlani v. Peretsman.

The accident occurred in June 2011 on South Wyoming Ave. in South Orange. According to plaintiff lawyer David Mazie, a car missed a stop sign at intersecting Lenox Avenue and broadsided his client Sunil Badlani’s vehicle, causing it to turn on its side. A third car then struck Badlani’s vehicle.

Badlani’s son Nikhil, 11, who was secured in the rear seat, sustained a fatal head trauma and may have expired at the scene, says Mazie, of Mazie Slater Katz & Freeman in Roseland.

Badlani sued under Portee v. Jaffee, 84 N.J. 88 (1980), which created a cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress from witnessing the wrongful death or serious injury of another. He alleged post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia, anxiety and depression from watching his child dying.

Essex County Superior Court Judge Sebastian Lombardi granted summary judgment on  the liability of Miriam Peretsman, who ran the stop sign. The parties then settled in a conference with Superior Court Judge Dennis Carey III. Of her $3.45 million, Travelers Insurance, her primary carrier, paid $500,000, her excess carrier Great Northern Ins. Co. paid $2.925 million, and $25,000 came from her own personal assets.

Robert Hebron, the driver of the third car, agreed to pay $100,000.

Peretsman’s counsel, Jerald Howarth of Howarth & Associates in Parsippany, and Hebron’s counsel, Jack Maloof of Maloof, Lebowitz, Connahan & Oleske in Chatham, confirm the settlement.

— By David Gialanella

Reprinted with permission from the March 31, 2014 edition of the New Jersey Law Journal© 2015 ALM Media Properties. LLC All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited.

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