As reported by an article in the Brooklyn Eagle in December of 2008, a Duane Reade truck hit Shirley Miller, leaving her brain-damaged with limited communication abilities. Miller and her parents sued Henry Lowis, the truck driver. Due to the doctrine of vicarious liability Lowis’ employer, Duane Reade, was sued as well.
Originally Brooklyn Supreme Curt Justice Arthur Schack was assigned the case. He recused himself after discovering a “Wanted” poster in his courtroom. The case was reassigned to Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Leon Ruchelsman.
Alongside Schack’s recusal, there was speak of Duane Reade’s insurance company, ACE America Insurance Company (ACE), violating a “no contact rule” between plaintiffs and defendants. The allegation claims director Miriam Mosseri, an employee of ACE, violated the rule by speaking with the plaintiffs while their attorneys weren’t present. Mosseri was brought in to “help humanize the defendents” and make the Millers more comfortable. Mosseri is fluent in Hebrew, the Millers native tongue.
During negotiations Mosseri found the opportunity to speak with the Millers. Mosseri spoke of how ACE had the best intentions and had already made multiple settlement offers. The Millers reported that Mosseri gave specific dollar amounts and commented that the Millers’ attorney declined the offer wanting more publicity for the case.
After allegations were reviewed, Ruchelsman ordered ACE to pay $3,000 to the Millers’ attorney and $7,000 to the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection, finding Mosseri’s presence “was done with specific and definitive goal and purpose.” Mosseri mentioned in her affidavit that she was specifically invited because of her fluency in Hebrew.
After many years of negotiating, the Millers and Duane Reade have announced a settlement agreement. Miller’s attorney, Evan Torgan, told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle “that (they) had to fight hard for her against Duane Reade and its insurance company.” Torgan reflected that this case was hard to evaluate and “there was no way to quantify it.”