Landscaper awarded $11.2M for lost leg, injuries

Robert Loja (middle, in photo) was living the American Dream, his lawyers said. After emigrating from Ecuador at 17 and getting his U.S. citizenship, Loja and his wife, Maria, owned a home in Peekskill where they lived with their 5-year-old son. He had a steady job with a landscaping company for eight years and was making enough so his wife could go to school to be a nurse.

That all changed on Oct. 24, 2008, when a 23-year-old paralegal, blinded by sun glare on her way to work, slammed into Loja as he was unloading a landscaping trailer on Benedict Avenue in Tarrytown. The collision pinned him against the trailer, crushing his legs and nearly killing him. He has been unable to work since.

Loja’s luck took a turn for the better on Friday, when a Westchester County jury awarded him $11.2 million in his suit against Sleepy Hollow Landscaping and the woman who hit him.

His lawyers, Jonathan Rice and Steven Grant, (left and right, respectively, in photo) said the judgment breaks down like this: $3 million for future medical expenses, about $1.4 million for future lost income, $300,000 for past medical expenses and past lost wages, $2.5 million for past pain and suffering, $3 million for future pain and suffering, and $1 million for his wife for past and future pain and suffering.

But that amount instantly is reduced by $3.36 million because the jury found Loja 30% liable for not parking the landscaping trailer in a safer spot. And his lawyers said there is little chance he would collect anywhere close to the remaining $7.84 million from the landscaping company and driver.

His lawyers hope they can negotiate enough money from the defendants to save Loja’s house from foreclosure and to buy a new, better-fitting prosthesis for his left leg, which they said would allow him to get the surgery he needs on his right leg.

Rebecca Baker

Rebecca Baker joined The Journal News in March 2004. She covers Eastchester, Bronxville and Tuckahoe, and was previously the state and county courts reporter in Westchester County. In prior jobs, she covered the Town of Greenburgh and Rockland County government and politics. Before coming to The Journal News, she was a municipal reporter for newspapers in New Haven, Conn. and Warren, Ohio.