Paralyzed N.J. girl settles suit against drunken Giants fan for $26M

12/3/2008 - NFL New York Giants

NEWARK, N.J. -- A stadium vendor has settled a lawsuit by the family of a girl paralyzed in a car accident caused by a drunken New York Giants fan for $26 million.

The amount of the settlement had been sealed until Wednesday, when a state appellate court overturned a lower court's decision to keep the settlement private.

Antonia Verni, 11, and her mother, Fazila, sought to keep the settlement private because of concerns over how the girl's estranged father handled funds from earlier settlements with other defendants.

The family sued Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp., Giants Stadium's concessionaire, claiming that employees continued to serve beer to Daniel Lanzaro of Cresskill even though he was visibly intoxicated.

Lanzaro had a blood alcohol level of 0.226, more than twice the legal limit at the time, after the 1999 accident. Antonia, then 2, was paralyzed from the neck down.

A Bergen County jury originally awarded $105 million to the family, but that ruling was reversed on appeal in 2006. The parties reached a settlement last year.

"It's a great deal from our perspective," said David Mazie, an attorney representing Antonia and Fazila Verni. "She needed to get the appropriate care, and this will more than take care of her for the rest of her life."

Mazie said the family also had reached separate settlements with the Giants, the NFL and Lanzaro for a total of about $1.2 million.

David W. Field, an attorney representing Aramark, did not return an after-hours message seeking comment Wednesday.