By David Singleton | Staff Writer
Four years ago Wednesday, an oncoming car suddenly turned in front of John A. Cancelleri’s 2005 Mercury Sable as he drove south on Route 307 in Spring Brook Twp.
The Sable’s airbag failed to deploy in the resulting near head-on collision, and Mr. Cancelleri suffered injuries that left him partially paralyzed.
On Thursday afternoon, a Lackawanna County jury found a design defect in the vehicle’s airbag and safety restraint system caused Mr. Cancelleri’s injuries and awarded the 87-year-old Covington Twp. man and his wife more than $5.9 million in damages.
Attorney Bruce Zero, who along with partner James Mundy represented the Cancelleris in the civil lawsuit against Ford Motor Co., called it a just verdict for a sweet, loving couple.
Mr. Cancelleri and his wife, Rosetta, 88, will celebrate their 59th anniversary in November, he said.
“We’re just thrilled for our clients,” Mr. Zero said. “We feel there was justice served. Mr. Cancelleri’s needs are great. He needs a caregiver every day. He needs a nurse a few times a week.
“God bless the poor man. He has suffered tremendously.”
The jury heard more than eight days of argument and testimony in Judge James Gibbons’ courtroom before returning its verdict after about 2½ hours of deliberation.
Mr. Zero and Mr. Mundy argued a design defect in the mounting system for the Sable’s front crash sensor caused the driver’s side airbag to fail to deploy in the collision. Because of the airbag’s failure, Mr. Cancelleri suffered a disc herniation with lower-extremity paralysis in the crash.
Jurors awarded Mr. Cancelleri $140,707 for past medical expenses, $1.3 million for future medical expenses, $1.2 million for past pain and suffering and $1.8 million for future pain and suffering. Mrs. Cancelleri was awarded $600,000 for past loss of consortium and $900,000 for future loss of consortium.
Efforts to reach William Conroy, the Philadelphia area attorney who represented Ford, were unsuccessful.
Ray Price Motors Inc., the Monroe County dealership where the Cancelleris purchased the Sable new in 2005, was originally named as a defendant but was dismissed before the case went to the jury.