The “trial of the century” reaches a landmark settlement for Staten Islanders, plus two leading health concepts welcome new facilities in the borough

by Amanda McCoy

JAG-ONE Physical Therapy, lauded as the tri-state area’s leading in-network provider of physical and occupational therapy services, recently made a stirring announcement: two new facilities are opening in the borough. In addition to their already existing locations in Dongan Hills, New Dorp, Rossville, Eltingville, New Springville, and Westerleigh, JAG-ONE is expanding its Staten Island footprint with facilities in Bloomfield and Tottenville. The Bloomfield location, set to open on April 3, is located in the Nicotra Group’s Corporate Commons Three and will offer comprehensive physical and hand therapy services. JAG-ONE Physical Therapy’s continued expansion in Staten Island allows JAG-ONE to offer the community expanded resources, highly specialized clinicians with a proven track record of success, and facilities to best support their patients’ goals and needs. John Gallucci Jr., CEO of JAG-ONE Physical Therapy and Staten Island native, founded his outpatient physical therapy business back in 2005, and today JAG-ONE serves the entire tri-state area with over 100 state of the art facilities in NJ, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens, Westchester, Rockland, Long Island, and Pennsylvania.

Attorney and Staten Island native Michael Kuharski grew up only half a mile from the Staten Island Dump and vividly remembers the “horrid stench” that hung in the air on humid summer days. The local seagulls, he recalled, became so sick they lost their ability to fly and would roam the street in front of his house. Eventually the facility, along with the Brookfield Dump, would be deemed toxic after it was discovered that chemical companies were secretly using the site to dump noxious waste. The sites were shut down, and the city sued and was awarded tens of millions of dollars in damages. Years later, residents who lived near the dumps began developing different forms of life threatening cancer. Many of them initiated lawsuits, but the class action mostly stalled for 18 years until Kuharski and team at KLG Law Group took over the case, one that the lead attorney described as “extremely personal.” “We were able to breathe new life into the case,” noted Kuharski. “We hired epidemiologists and talked to experts, and got all our ducks in a row to get ready for trial.” Kuharski was prepared for an arduous nine-month trial, but before it began the seasoned litigator convinced the city to begin negotiations, ultimately securing settlements for 32 plaintiffs, ranging in individual payouts from $750,000 to $1.75 million, for a grand total of $34 million the largest settlement ever awarded in Staten Island.

According to Kuharski, the fight is far from over, and he expects to be working on finalizing the settlements of the 11 death cases for at least the next year. He also noted that it would not be surprising if new plaintiffs emerged with the intent to file new claims against the city. “It’s important for Staten Islanders to know that they can only sue the city if they file a notice of claim within 90 days of the onset of the claim,” he said. “If somebody gets diagnosed with cancer and they live within one mile of the dump, they have 90 days to take action.”

According to the CDC, obesity is an epidemic in the U.S., one that’s becoming more prevalent with each passing year. Statistics show that in 2018, obesity had swelled to 42.4%, a staggering increase from 30% at the turn of the millennium, and the prevalence of severe obesity had risen to 9.2%. This March, the country’s largest private bariatric practice celebrated the grand opening of its first Staten Island location, bringing comprehensive, world-renowned bariatric procedures to the borough. New York Bariatric Group first opened in Long Island 22 years ago and has since performed 30,000 successful procedures and expanded to 20 locations throughout the tri-state and beyond. The facility, also based in the Nicotra Group’s new mixed-use campus in Bloomfield, houses two full-time surgeons and one plastic surgeon, and offers both surgical and non-surgical options for weight loss along with cosmetic procedures focused on post-op body contouring.

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