By Alba Acevedo
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
In this courtroom sketch, Hon. Peter Sweeney listens during a read-back of testimony at the request of the jury in the motor vehicle trial of Jonathan Soto v. Max C. McPherson. Plaintiff’s attorney Earle F. Weprin of the Bensonhurst law firm William Pager is seated at left. Court reporter Susan Wright (at right) reads aloud from her notes. Defendant’s attorney Rosario Marquis D’Apice, of the Court St. law firm Longo & D’Apice, is seated at center.
At issue in this bifurcated trial is the determination of liability. In August 2011, the plaintiff and his motorcycle sustained injury related to maneuvering into a parking space near the intersection of Knickerbocker Avenue and Hart Street. The plaintiff’s attorney sought to persuade the jury that his client was in the process of pulling into the space when, he alleged, the passenger side of the defendant’s vehicle came into contact with the plaintiff’s left leg, essentially side-swiping him and causing him to fall. The defendant’s attorney elicited a different version of the incident. The defendant testified that while pulling into the parking spot, he could see in his view mirror that the motorcycle-riding plaintiff was at a distance behind him, losing his balance and falling. Defendant denied there was any contact between the vehicles.
The jury requested a read-back of both parties’ testimony, which included the plaintiff’s mention of having observed a cellphone conversation taking place in the defendant’s vehicle. The jury deliberated a short while before returning a verdict, finding that the defendant was not negligent.
Subsequent to a reading of the verdict a juror commented that if the plaintiff had time to notice the cellphone conversation, the jury believed that the plaintiff had time to avoid the vehicle. The luckless plaintiff suffered a fractured wrist and $2,700 in damages to his motorcycle.