Fire Loss Verdicts and Settlements

  1. Leo O – Insufficient Smoke Alarms at Boarding House Results in Injuries
  2. Mohammed Z – Smoke Detectors Found Inoperable


Fire – Insufficient Smoke Alarms at Boarding House Results in Injuries
XV/10-17 FIRE AT ROOMING HOUSE – INSUFFICIENT NUMBER OF SMOKE DETECTORS

BOARDER SUFFERS SMOKE INHALATION AND OTHER INJURIES

Leo O. v. Katherine Schaeffer, Joan Correia, and Theresa Coovier 162490-93 Verdict 6/24/97 Queens Supreme 1 month trial.

Judge: Herbert A. Posner

Verdict: Liability: Defts. 60%; nonparty Deft. 40% negligent (6/0). Subsequently settled for $450,000. Jury: 5 male, 1 female.

Pltf. Atty: James v. Mattone of Daniel P. Buttafuoco & Assoc., Mineola

Deft. Atty: Kenneth L. Brown of Rivkin, Radler & Kremer, Uniondale, for Schaeffer and Coovier Frank C. Falzone of Alio, Ronan, Kesnig & Ritzert, Melville, for Correia

Facts: On 6/28/93, Pltf., age 72 and retired, was found in his room at a rooming house at 60-39 Maspeth Ave. in Maspeth after a fire, which had started when another boarder (nonparty 40% liable) threw a lit cigarette in a garbage can. Pltf. contended that because the house was being used as a multiple dwelling, smoke detectors were required not only in hallways, but in each dwelling unit. He contended that if proper smoke detectors had been in place, he would have been woken from his sleep and been able to escape. The New York Fire Dept. reports were conflicting as to the presence of smoke detectors.

Defts., the owners of the house, contended that the proximate cause of Pltf.’s injuries was the actions of the boarder who carelessly threw away a cigarette.

Injuries: smoke inhalation; friable (brittle) trachea; carbon dioxide poisoning. Pltf. was hospitalized for 2 months, and underwent 2 months of rehabilitation. Demonstrative evidence: photographs of house; diagram of trachea. Offer: $50,000; demand: $ 350,000. Carriers: USF&G; Allstate; CNA. Jury deliberations: 4 hours. Settlement apportionment: Each Deft. paid $150,000.

Pltf. Expert: Jay Shankrnan, safety engineer, Farmingville. Pltf. would have called Dr. Ali Guy, rehabilitative medicine, Manhattan.

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

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Multiple Dwelling Fire – Smoke Detectors Found Inoperable
MOHAMMED Z. v. CHARLES H.GREENTHAL, ET AL.

Index No. 00.007575

Judge: Ralph P. Franco

Liability (6/0)

Verdict: Defendants 100% – subsequently settled for $1,400,000.

Jury: 3 male, 3 female

Plaintiff Attorney: James V. Mattone, Esq. of Daniel P. Buttafuoco & Associates

Defendant Attorney: Epstein, Hill, Grammatico & Gann

Facts:
On February 5, 1997, thirty-five year old Plaintiff was sleeping when he woke to a smoke filled room and sirens. Plaintiff opened his door to a smoke filled hallway. Plaintiff attempted to crawl down the hallway unsuccessfully, falling unconscious and being rescued by fire personnel, awakening in the hospital.

Plaintiffs argued the hardwired alarm system was broken and had not been repaired and submitted a line item request from the Management Company’s log book.

Plaintiff subpoenaed Fire Department personnel who would not say conclusively one way or another if the alarm system was working. Defendants produced board member and tenant who stated alarm system was working.

Injuries: Second degree burns to arms and feet;

Demonstrative Evidence: Line item request Fire Department samples or rugs, photos of building

Offer: O

Demand $250,000

Plaintiff expert: Gene West -Fire Expert

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