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Court reduces jury award to man rear-ended by Suffolk sheriff's deputy's vehicle

A state appellate court has reduced a jury award of more than $1 million to a Patchogue man rear-ended by a Suffolk sheriff's deputy's vehicle in 2007 to $250,000.

The four-judge panel of the Appellate Division Second Department in Brooklyn ruled that the prior amount, awarded in August 2012, was "excessive."

Christopher Cicola, an accountant who is now 42, said he suffered injuries to the cervical region of his spine, which required two spinal fusion surgeries, physical therapy and other treatments, after he was hit by Suffolk Deputy Sheriff Glenn S. Muller on Jan. 11, 2007. Muller was driving a Suffolk County vehicle.

Suffolk County Attorney Dennis Brown said Thursday, "We think it's a fair decision. It speaks for itself."

Jason Firestein of Sayville, an attorney for Cicola, said he planned to file a motion to reargue the case before the appellate court. He said the panel "applied precedent poorly."

Firestein noted that the appellate court cited as precedent a court decision that reduced a jury award of $750,000 to $400,000 -- a proportionately smaller decrease than Cicola received.

Firestein also said the order misstated the jury award for future pain and suffering as $550,000, instead of more than $1 million. Brown confirmed that the order had an error, which he called a typo.

The jury had awarded $325,000 for past pain and suffering and $700,000 for future pain and suffering. The Appellate Division reduced the award for past pain and suffering to $150,000 and for future pain and suffering to $100,000.

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