In late June 2013, Mark Perez was setting up the Best Buy booth for a concert at the Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, New York. As Perez was putting together the two-level booth—and standing at least 10 feet above the ground—a union stagehand hired by Live Nation drove a forklift into the structure, causing him to plummet to the ground and sustain massive brain injuries, skull fractures, spinal fractures, fractured ribs and a punctured and collapsed lung.

During his initial hospitalization, Perez was put into a medically induced coma, placed on life support and intubated with feeding, chest and tracheal tubes. After emerging from the coma, he underwent a comprehensive brain injury rehabilitation program but still required four brain surgeries between 2013 and 2015. Perez will likely need additional brain surgeries, suffers from posttraumatic epilepsy, and is now constantly at risk of having seizures.

“Mark is keenly aware of how his quality of life has deteriorated,” notes Benedict Morelli, Perez’s attorney. “He will have to live with that intense physical and emotional suffering for the rest of his life.”

Morelli, a renowned plaintiff’s attorney, has an impressive track record of taking cases to trial and winning—and Perez’s lawsuit proved no different: In December 2019, Morelli and his team obtained a $102 million verdict for Perez. After Morelli argued in front of the Appellate Division, First Department, the court upheld $20 million in pain and suffering, the largest affirmed award in the state’s history. With lost wages and medical expenses, the entire award came to about $50 million.

“The court recognized the unique circumstances of Mark’s case and his profound awareness of his loss of enjoyment of life,” says Morelli. “The decision will create a new benchmark for catastrophic injury cases, pushing the court into a more modern era.”