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Confidential Settlement Requiring Court Approval Involving Fatal Injury to a Teenager
(Letter from Judge Hague, who was appointed Guardian to Judge Garruto, who was supervising case) (Case Involved a Defective Product)

October 11, 2006

Dear Judge Garruto:

The undersigned was appointed Guardian Ad Litem (“GAL”) in a tragic teenage vehicle collision rendering the youngster, then aged 13, virtually brain dead.  Plaintiff existed in this state for over two years.  Of the two defendants, obviously the driver of the motor vehicle’s liability is easily understood in terms of traditional negligence concepts.  Unfortunately, the police report clearly indicates that the fault was solely the infant plaintiff’s.  The liability difficulties facing plaintiff deal essentially with novel concepts concerning the ultimate obligation of the retailer and product manufacturer to provide/warn concerning the use of a helmet and head lamp.  The product liability issues thus presented are novel, to say the least, and present considerable risk to plaintiff’s recovery…

The Court is already aware of my experience of over 45 years in personal injury, not only as trial lawyer, but also as a Superior Court Judge who remained exclusively in the Civil Trial Section for over a decade.  I know of only one other judge who was accorded this honor in our system; all other judges had to be rotated through the various divisions…

I have confirmed my appraisal of the value range of this case along with the attendant contributory negligence and product liability problems by conferring with experienced personal injury attorneys and judges.  The product liability difficulties were discussed with a recently retired Appellate Division Judge who specialized and lectured in this area.  Based upon the above, I think plaintiff’s attorney, Martin Kronberg, did a magnificent job…

Respectfully submitted,

Judge Douglas T. Hague
 

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