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Verizon to Pay $125 Million Personal Injury Settlement, Largest in New Jersey History

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The family of an Essex County, New Jersey, woman who sued Verizon after a weathered telephone pole fell on her, leaving her paralyzed, has reportedly settled its personal injury lawsuit against the communication company giant for $125 million, according to court documents.

Maria Moser Meister, 50, a lawyer from West Orange, New Jersey, was injured in January 2017 at a bus station in Union City, New Jersey. According to the complaint, while waiting for a bus during her daily commute to work in New York, Meister was struck by the pole. David Mazie, the family’s attorney, confirmed the injuries she sustained as a result of the accident, which included multiple fractures of her spine and ribs. Meister is now reportedly paralyzed from her mid-chest down with limited use of her left arm. She also is said to have sustained brain injuries and is currently enduring vision problems, according to Mazie.

Court documents indicate that the 43-year-old wooden telephone pole was partially rotted. The accident was a result of said pole snapping at its base, which suddenly crushed Meister’s head and torso. According to court documents, the pole was co-owned by Verizon under an agreement with PSE&G, and the equipment and wires connected to the structure were held by Verizon and PSE&G.

The injured woman’s husband, Peter Meister, sued the utility companies along with Altice USA. PSE&G and Altice had reportedly not used the pole for decades. Consequently, court documents indicate that Verizon took full responsibility for the pole’s dilapidated condition.

Essex County, New Jersey, Superior Court Judge, Stephen L. Petrillo, issued an order Monday approving a settlement stipulating that Verizon pay the plaintiff $125 million, PSE&G pay $250,000, and Altice pay $25,000. According to the court’s order, Maria Meister will receive $118 million and her husband will receive $7 million.

The family’s attorney, David Mazie, issued a public statement declaring, “This is a very tragic circumstance, and nobody gets paid these kinds of numbers without having a catastrophic, life-changing injury.” “This has devastated her life and her husband and children, and she will never be put back together,” he added.

Mazie stated that the personal injury settlement represents the largest in New Jersey history. The settlement’s $125 million figure eclipsed the previous record of $47 million for a suit against St. Barnabas Hospital.