R. J. Hughes Justice Complex
TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) – The Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division has ruled that the $1.8 million in damages awarded to a woman who was injured by a thrown glass bottle while riding on a New Jersey Transit bus should remain with no need for a new trial.
According to the July 17 court filing, the defendant-appellants the New Jersey Transit Corp. and Kelvin Coats filed an appeal in a case filed by plaintiff-respondent Anasia Maison.
Maison filed a lawsuit against NJ Transit and Coats, its bus driver, after a 2013 incident that involved a fellow bus passenger throwing a glass liquor bottle at her forehead, causing her to need 22 stitches.
Prior to Maison being hit, she had been harassed by a group of teenagers who were riding on the bus, including one of them brandishing a knife at her. A jury awarded Maison the $1.8 million judgment despite the verdict, new trial or remittitur, according to the court filing.
Among the defendants' arguments in the appeal are that the trial court allowed Maison to go to trial without supporting expert testimony, failed to apply the common carrier standard to its buses and drivers, and the court's rejection of their request to have the bottle thrower on the verdict sheet.
Judge Richard S. Hoffman concluded that "there was a prolonged hostile interaction" among Maison and the teenage bus passengers and that the driver should have foreseen possible danger and taken actions. The court also concluded that there was "no reason to disturb" Maison's damage award and that the trial judge should not "inform the jury of the amount of the award" and instruct them to examine the issue "of fault between the bottle thrower and defendants."