Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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New York’s Dram Shop law is found in Section 11-101 of the General Obligations Law. Dram Shop laws are strict liability statutes that allow for alcohol vendors to be held liable for their violations in serving people alcohol who are visibly intoxicated or are actually or apparently under 21 years of age. Courts allow for people who are injured as a result of the vendor’s violation of these laws to bring suit for their damages. New York’s law is distinctive in that it allows for a third-party who may never have had any contact with the bar themselves to sue for injuries caused to them by the bar’s intoxicated patrons.

A case brought pursuant to the Dram Shop law is difficult to prove; it requires a showing that the injured person was harmed by an intoxicated person, that there was an unlawful sale of alcohol by the vendor, and the sale of alcohol contributed to the person’s intoxication.

In our most recent Dram Shop case, the plaintiff was sitting at a bar in Brooklyn, when he observed a visibly intoxicated patron continuing to order and be served drinks by the bartender. The patron became more and more intoxicated, and eventually assaulted the plaintiff with a glass. The glass broke and caused the Plaintiff to subsequently lose his eye. Mr. Meserole presented this evidence to the Court who agreed that the Plaintiff was entitled to a recovery. A judgment was obtained for $1,200,000.

 

 

 

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Yankee Stadium
You may recall that late last year, yankee fan and client of Leav & Steinberg, LLP Andrew Zlotnick had been featured in the New York Times regarding a claim for serious injuries we brought on his behalf against the New York Yankees & Major League Baseball.

It was August several years ago, Mr. Zlotnick was seated along with his son and his son’s friends seated down the first base line.  This was in advance of Hurricane Irene.  The Yankees had an umbrella policy which allowed all size umbrellas to be open during the game play.  Major League Baseball had made a decision, despite the almost three hour rain delay, to get the game in.  These two events without question increased the risk for Mr. Zlotnick as he could not perceive the danger about to befell him.

Hideki Matsui of the Oakland Athletics hit a foul ball that struck Mr. Zlotnick in the left eye causing life altering injuries.

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Recently, Leav & Steinberg, LLP were successful in resolving a case involving a shooting and stampede at a New York City Dinner Club.  The event was advertised to the general public as a hip hop/rap concert.  The advertisement and public ads showed “hip hop gang bangers”; certainly a vision of what the night would be like.  Sadly the club security was lacking any appropriate steps to ensure that weapons were not brought in.  In fact, there were no female security guards and anyone entering would be free to give a female guest a weapon and she would be able to walk right in.

A fight broke out, several people were shot and a resulting stampede resulted in several people being seriously injured while trying to flee for their safety.

Similarly, in Galveston Texas club owners didn’t beef up security for a show featuring two rival rap groups and an aspiring emcee was shot in the head in a fight that could have been expected, his mother claims in court.

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Our client, a truck driver from Massachusetts, was making a delivery at a local New York grocery store and sustained an injury his ankle. At the time of the accident, while he was walking backwards using a hand truck he tripped and fell over a U-Boat, which is a cart used by grocery stores to stack product after it is delivered.

Leav & Steinberg was able to establish that the defendant’s employees had placed the U-Boat in our client’s path prior to the fall. This case had been rejected by other law firms who felt that the client’s comparative negligence was the sole proximate cause of the accident.

Through our efforts we were able to establish that the defendant was responsible for directing the path our client was to take while making his delivery. Thus, a jury could have found the grocery store negligent.

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This morning, a terrible tragedy occurred as a crane collapsed in TriBeCa around 8:30 A.M. Early reports indicate that at least one person has been fatally injured, and two others have sustained serious injuries.

The massive crane, operated by Bay Crane, now lays down the path of Worth Street stretching from West Broadway to Church Street.

It appears the crane was working on 60 Hudson Street, a longtime industrial building undergoing renovation to luxury apartments. The crane was parked on Worth Street.

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As a trial attorney I am often contacted by client’s who request my opinion on whether their chid’s accident in a playground was due to negligence. They ask questions like, was there enough supervision? Did the children have enough instruction on how to use the equipment? Aren’t monkey bars dangerous generally?

Often the answer results in my firm not pursuing the case. Kids do get hurt. Sometime’s accidents happen. However, recently I was contacted by a wonderfully nice family and presented with an interesting case.

Their six year old son who was in first grade at the time, had fallen off a piece of equipment during school in the playground. He described the equipment as monkey bars. In fact, the school incident report also stated he fell from the monkey bars. He told me he was jumping off and landed hard on his elbow on the mat below. He had a fracture to his elbow that would require percutaneous pinning which is when a doctor places a pin through the skin to allow the bone to heal. The pin is removed a few weeks later when the bone has calcified.

At first I advised the family, that based on those facts it would seem very difficult if not impossible to bring a case against the school for negligence. Kids play, there are monkey bars and falling from them, absent a design or construction defect would likely not be a case. Especially in Staten Island, a very conservative county.

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Appeals coming to fruition now were in the making long before 2015 arrived and the New York Appellate Courts have already decided thirty or so snow and ice cases this year. Many more will be coming. As we prepare for the next big storm that’s coming, let’s examine some general legal issues. For purposes of this blog, we will stick to the basics and not assess each and every fact in detail (quite unlike what this firm does when prosecuting real cases). We will also point out the major caveat that each and every case is unique. A case’s existence and outcome will vary based on a multitude of factors that will not be fully explained in this blog.

Envision this. You are a young attorney who is preparing for trial. On your way to the office last Saturday morning, you slip on the marble floor of your large office building lobby, sustaining serious injuries. Unfortunately for your injuries, there is no case. A vestibule floor that was inherently slippery due to its smoothness is not an actionable defect. See e.g. Beceren v. Joan Realty, LLC, 2015 NY Slip Op 00324 (2nd Dept. 2015).

Next scenario. It’s still Saturday. You receive a surprise flower delivery, but since your office is technically closed and the firm’s secretary is not working, you go down to the lobby to get it. Unbeknownst to you, before you arrive on the scene, the delivery man spills water from the vase onto the floor. You slip on it, sustaining serious injuries. Here, you could establish fault of the flower delivery man and/or the building officials if you can show that they created the spill or had sufficient notice of the wet condition that caused the slip and reasonable time to clean and/or warn. See e.g. Weiss v. Gerard Owners Corp., 22 A.D.3d 406, 803 N.Y.S.2d 51 (1st Dept. 2005).

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Leav & Steinberg, LLP often receives calls from people who trip and fall on a city sidewalk and are injured. One would assume since it is a city sidewalk the city would be solely responsible for the maintenance and repair of the sidewalks. However this is not always the case.

In 2008 a law was passed by the NYC counsel shifting the responsibility to maintain and repair sidewalks to the building owner in most instances. The city is now only responsible to maintain and repair sidewalks adjacent to 1, 2 or 3 family, owner occupied houses. So if you fall on a sidewalk adjacent to a commercial building or high rise Apartment the building owners insurance company is responsible to compensate you for your injuries. However, it is very important to call Leav & Steinberg, LLP immediately after any trip and fall so we can do a complete investigation and protect your rights. If the city is involved a notice of claim must be presented within 90 days.

Leav & Steinberg, LLP has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients who unfortunately fell and got injured after falling on a defective sidewalk. It is always best to call us immediately so we can protect your rights.

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One of a personal injury attorney’s most important tasks is to protect clients. Two major parts of that involve ensuring clients have the best case possible under the law and protecting their privacy. Our last blog was about how injury attorneys can fortify a case with information from vehicle event data recorders. We linked to the New York law about the disclosure of the information recorded by event data records, such as speed, location, and brake performance. That type of activity recording raises privacy concerns, but that comes with the injury case territory.

Another privacy issue arises from a similar recording device, the license plate recorder. License plate recorders are cameras that may be mounted on things like police cars, tow trucks, traffic signs, and bridges and they have the potential to track each and every location an individual has driven. The ACLU has called for more legal restriction on the information obtained by these devices based on rights contained in the Fourth Amendment, in part because private companies are disclosing information with little to no oversight. Some states have already passed laws on the retention of the information collected from these cameras.

New recording devices raise new issues; as technology evolves, so does the law. But personal injury attorneys have been dealing with countless privacy issues since the start. Most commonly we deal with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPAA law. The law says injury attorneys have to turn over certain medical records and authorizations releasing medical records directly from healthcare providers to the attorneys whose job is to defend the case. A proper HIPAA authorization is always required to release medical records, but generally speaking only records related to the body parts injured in the accident need to be turned over. In Gumbs v. Flushing Town Center III, L.P., 1114 A.D.3d 573, 981 N.Y.S.2d 394 (1st Dept. 2014), the Appellate Division affirmed the decision of the Honorable Laura Douglas to protect the plaintiff from providing authorizations to the defendants relating to some of his own medical records. His case was related to injuries sustained to his shoulder and ankle. The defendants were seeking records from his cardiologist and primary care physician. The defendants claimed the records were related to the plaintiff’s ability to work and his life expectancy.

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An explosion today in Manhattan’s East Harlem caused a piano store and an evangelical church to crumble to pieces, leaving a grim scene behind. The buildings, which were located near 116th Street and Park Avenue, also contained fifteen residential units. The incident was reported to be deafeningly loud, like a bomb. One witness described the feeling in his room nearby in the Taft Houses as similar to experiencing an earthquake and a car crash at once. The force of the explosion caused debris to spew onto elevated Metro North train tracks across the street, resulting in temporary suspension of service. Residential and commercial building windows nearby were shattered to pieces. People ran into the streets and gathered there in crowds. Smoke and flames poured out of the wreckage while first responders dug into the bricks, looking for survivors.

Two fatalities and twenty-eight injuries have been documented. The injuries range from minor to severe. One individual reported hearing loss and another individual seems to have suffered a brain injury. Almost two dozen of the injured are being treated at Mount Sinai Hospital. A handful are being treated at Harlem Hospital. Other hospitals with patients with injuries from this incident include NY Presbyterian, Weill Cornell, and Metropolitan Hospital. Numerous people remain missing at this time.

The cause of the explosion has not yet been determined. However, a Park Avenue resident notified Con Edison of a gas leak at 1652 Park Avenue at 9:13 A.M., approximately fifteen minutes prior to the explosion. The caller specified that the odor may have been coming from the exterior of the building. Con Ed’s work truck did not arrive at the scene until after the explosion. An eight inch low pressure gas main services this area; its condition is presently unknown.