Elevator Accident Verdicts and Settlements

  1. Ricardo S – Elevator door causes multiple facial fractures
  2. Marlene S – Elevator Free Fall Injures Two Passengers


Elevator Accident – Elevator Door Causes Multiple Facial Fractures
XV/20-41 FREIGHT ELEVATOR ACCIDENT DOORS CLOSE ON MECHANIC’S HEAD MUL TIPLE FACIAL FRACTURES

SETTLEMENT: Ricardo and Michelle S. v. Morris and Elliot Cohen, Leon Betesh, and Lawrence Jemel 1536/96 Date of Settlement 9/10/97 Queens Supreme

This action settled prior to trial for a structured settlement with a cash value of $592,000 and a guaranteed payout of $870,436. Pltf., a 32- year-old sprinkler mechanic, claimed that on 6/21/96 he went to Deft.’s building at W. 125th St. in Harlem to work on the sprinkler system. He entered the service elevator in the basement and tried to close the doors, but the handle was missing. The freight elevator doors close from the top and bottom and meet in the middle. Pltf. claimed that he leaned forward to close the doors shut, but they closed quickly and his head became caught between the doors. Pltf. claimed that the elevator was improperly maintained and rusted.

Pltf. argued that Deft. negligently maintained the elevator. Defts., the owners of the building, denied that the elevator was defective. They argued that Pltf. improperly used the doors, by having his head between the doors and pulling down too hard.

Injuries: bilateral fracture of the orbital rims; fractured right zygoma, requiring surgery; nasal fracture; left and right LeFort fracture; two fractured teeth. He suffers diminished airflow due to the nasal fracture and has a plate inserted beneath his eyebrow. Pltf. was out of work for 7 months. Defts. would have argued that the injuries healed and that Pltf. was able to return to his usual occupation. Carrier: Guarantee National.

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Elevator Accident – Elevator Free Fall Injures Two Passengers
XIX/50-8 ELEVATOR ACCIDENT FREE FALL WITH ABRUPT STOP LIABILITY CONCEDED

ONE PASSENGER SUFFERS LEG FRACTURES AND KNEE INJURIES SECOND PASSENGER SUFFERS AGGRAVATION OF OSTEOARTHRITIC CONDITION REQUIRING KNEE REPLACEMENT

Marlene and Carlos S., and Esther M. v. City of New York 21181/98 2-week trial Verdict 5/7/02 Bronx Supreme

Judge: Howard Silver

Verdict: $1,100,376 for Marlene S. (6/0). Breakdown: $100,000 for past pain and suffering; $300,000 for future pain and suffering (20 years); $125,000 for past lost earnings; $400,000 for future lost earnings (20 years); $25,376 for past medical expenses; $150,000 for future medIcal expenses.

$10,000 for Carlos S. for loss of services (6/0). Breakdown: $5,000 for past loss of services; $5,000 for future loss of services.

$465,000 for M.(6/0). Breakdown: $100,000 for past pain and suffering; $300,000 for future pain and suffering; $65,000 for future medical expenses. Jury: 5 male, I female.

Pltf. Atty: Daniel P. Buttafuoco of Daniel P. Buttafuoco & Associates, Woodbury.

Deft. Atty: Joseph E. Mohbat, Asst. Corp. Counsel.

Facts: Plaintiffs S., a 39-year-old social worker, and M., a 75-year-old retiree, were passengers in an elevator at the Bronx Family Courthouse on 4/9/98 when it malfunctioned, and went into a free fall for three or four floors, ending in an abrupt stop. The plaintiffs testified that they were forced to the floor by the sudden stop. They claimed that the elevator, which was owned, operated, and maintained by the City, had a history of prior similar problems. Liability was conceded and this trial was on the issue of damages.

Injuries: Marlene S. ($1,100,376 verdict) traumatically induced fracture of the fibula and fracture of the tibial plateau of the right leg, treated with casting. An MR1 revealed a traumatic lesion requiring arthroscopic surgery. The plaintiff treated with an orthopedist and a physiatrist. She has not returned to work since the date of the accident. The plaintiff s treating orthopedist opined that she may require knee replacement surgery in the future. Her economist testified that while she is not totally disabled, the plaintiff cannot return to her job as a social worker because it requires extensive walking, which she is unable to do because ofher injuries. Esther M.: ($465,000 verdict) aggravation of pre-existing osteoarthritis of the right knee, requiring right knee replacement surgery. The plaintiff conceded that she had made previous complaints of right knee pain. She claimed that she also suffered aggravation of left knee osteoarthritis in the instant accident, and her treating orthopedist opined that she may require future left knee replacement surgery. The City did not call any physicians to refute the plaintiffs’ claims. Demonstrative evidence: model of the knee. Offer: $450,000 package offered pre-trial; $750,000 package offered after jury selection; $1,000,000 offer made pre-summation was withdrawn during jury deliberations; demand: $1,500,000 package.

Pltf. Experts: Dr. Mitchell Goldstein, Marlene S.’s treating orth. surg., Merrick; Dr. Jeffiey Perry, treating physiatrist, Elrnhurst; Stuart Sachnin, Ph.D., vocational economist, Manhattan; Dr. Stanley Liebowitz, Esther M.’s treating orth. surg., Manhattan.

Deft. Expert: There was no expert testimony for defendant.

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