Drug Researcher Gets $2 Million for Near Fatal Car-Truck Auto Injury

December 2, 2004 – Lawyers and insurance companies on all sides have agreed to a settlement of the Catherine Blankenship vs. Armando Guardiola, et al. auto injury case in a deal concluded before Judge Paulette Sapp-Peterson, Presiding Judge, New Jersey Superior Court Civil Division, Mercer County, Docket # MERL-0477-03.

Dr. Blankenship’s injury occurred on February 11, 2002 on Route 287 Southbound in Edison, NJ. Dr. Blankenship was driving her car in the center lane, when a tractor-trailer truck behind her veered to the right lane, cutting off and striking another auto that then struck Ms. Blankenship’s auto and caused her to lose control of her own car and swerve into the right lane where she was struck by the truck.

“At the time of the injury, Catherine Blankenship, PhD was a promising post-doctoral fellow conducting original molecular bio-chemical research through the Johnson & Johnson neurology and drug discovery group. Also she was pursuing stem cell research in collaboration with another company,” says her attorney, Jed S. Kadish, Esq., a partner specializing in personal injury and auto insurance in the law firm of Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman in Princeton, New Jersey. “Dr. Blankenship was a vibrant, productive, athletic woman prior to the auto accident.”

As a result of the auto accident, Dr. Blankenship suffered multiple severe injuries, including closed head injury, torticollis (contracted state of neck muscles producing permanently unnatural “tilted” head position), double and blurry vision, and traumatic spinal cord injury (sub-occipital craniectomy with neuro-vascular decompression of the 11th nerve bilaterally). Lawyers say the spinal cord condition required a rare surgery, which Dr. Blankenship underwent at Allegheny Medical Center in Pittsburgh, PA.

“Now,” her attorney says, “She is mostly confined to a wheelchair. Perhaps someday she will benefit from the stem cell research she helped to further.”

“A resident of Hightstown, New Jersey at the time of the accident,” disclosed her attorney, Mr. Kadish. “Dr. Blankenship and her husband, Scott, now live in Bakersville, North Carolina, as a result of health and economic problems stemming from the accident. This personal injury has been a family hardship in many ways.”

The case involved defendants Olexion Rubbish Haulers and Tyler Trucking, both insured by Scottsdale Insurance of Arizona, on behalf of the truck driver, and the other auto driver, Alex Bellafronte, who was insured by Allstate Insurance. Representing the defendants were personal injury lawyer Susana J. Morris of Budd Larner in Cherry Hill, New Jersey for the truck driver defendants and personal injury attorney Mark Bayles of Novins, York and Pentony of Toms River, New Jersey for the other auto driver.

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