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Buffalo woman awarded $980,000 in fitness center lawsuit

A Buffalo woman has been awarded $980,000 for her pain and suffering after discs in her neck were damaged during a workout at a North Buffalo fitness center.

A State Supreme Court jury decided on the award for Linda Baldi-Perry last week during a trial of her lawsuit against the former Fitness 360 on Delaware Avenue.

The total amount of the award was $1.4 million, including $400,000 for past pain and suffering and $1 million for future pain and suffering. The fitness center was found 70 percent responsible for the damage she suffered during the workout, while she was found 30 percent responsible, reducing the amount of the award she will receive by 30 percent.

Her attorney, Joseph D. Morath Jr. of Connors & Vilardo, said that after his client underwent a cervical fusion in 2005 to remove degenerated discs in her neck and replace them with a bone graft, her doctors instructed her to stay fit and active to help avoid any future issues with her neck.

He said she hired a personal trainer at the fitness center in 2006, after explaining her surgical history and her restrictions.

On Oct. 29, 2008, the trainer designed a workout that involved a series of three strenuous exercises that were to be performed back to back with no rest, Morath said.

He said his client questioned the workout, and the trainer assured her that it was safe.

The attorney said she awoke that night in excruciating pain and has never recovered.

He said the workout caused permanent damage to the discs above and below the original fusion, requiring an additional fusion as well as the installation of a titanium plate and titanium rods.

Morath said her surgeon testified that there is no surgery available to address all of the damage caused by the workout or to relieve all of her pain.

As a result, the attorney said, she will have headaches, chronic pain in her neck and radiating arm pain for the rest of her life. She also has severe and permanent restrictions on the range of motion in her neck, he said.

Justice Russell P. Buscaglia presided at the trial.

Attorney Mollie C. McGorry assisted Morath.