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In 2013, a New York Police Officer was responding to a motor vehicle accident in the Bronx.  While standing by her patrol car gathering documents to complete, an uninvolved van stopped uphill just ahead of the accident began rolling backwards.  Plaintiff, a single mother, working for the Police Department for over 10 years tried to move out of the way but was pinned between the patrol car as she was struck by the van’s sideview mirror.

She was taken to the scene by ambulance and treated for a right (dominant hand) wrist injury.  X-rays were initially negative, but within a week, the swelling had subsided and a radius fracture was diagnosed along with a nerve injury to her hand.

Leav & Steinberg, LLP had represented several members of her family before and been successful for them.  However, she was also aware that our firm’s reputation for successfully litigating cases against The New York Police Department for negligence. Wanting a firm that would fight for justice for anyone seriously injured,  she contacted partner Edward Steinberg, who came to her home and spent time understanding the details of the case, and limits the injury was going to cause on her career.

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A tragic accident occurred last week in Queens when a Charter Bus plowed through a stop light at a high rate of speed and collided with an MTA Q20 bus. The collision killed the driver of the Charter bus, as well as a pedestrian and a passenger on the MTA bus, and injured 16 others. Mayor Bill de Blasio said of the accident scene “It’s just shocking to see the scene over there. Hard to compare it to anything I’ve ever seen — the sheer destruction from the impact of the collision.”

In the days since the accident, it has been discovered that the driver of the Charter Bus had been fired from his job as an MTA bus driver in 2015 after he fled the scene of an auto accident and was later convicted of evading arrest and driving under the influence. It was also discovered that not only did the driver of the Charter Bus have a record of unsafe conduct, but the bus owners, Dahlia Charters did as well. Last year a Charter Bus owned by Dahlia overturned on the highway injuring 30 people. Dahlia has also been cited several times for speeding, mechanical, and administrative violations. When compared with other Charter Bus companies, this puts Dahlia in the bottom 20% when ranked on unsafe driving.

Sadly, these types of incidents are far too common. Charter Bus companies regularly put profitability over safety, and the results can be devastating. Our firm has seen firsthand the effects of similar bus accidents on victims and their families, so it is heart breaking to see another one of these senseless tragedies happen, especially when we know they are preventable.

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NEW YORK STATE UNIFIED COURT SYSTEM CREATES LEGAL “TASK FORCE” TO ASSIST VICTIMS OF HURRICANE HARVEY

The New York State Unified Court System recently announced the creation and mobilization of a “Volunteer Task Force” of New York based attorneys and court system employees to assist the victims of Hurricane Harvey, and aid in their recovery efforts.

The Texas Supreme Court has issued an emergency order that allows out of state attorneys to provide assistance to storm victims through Legal Aid, Pro Bono, and Bar Association programs. The goal is to provide affected Texans free assistance with filing insurance claims, applying for FEMA benefits, satisfying mortgage obligations, and many other pressing legal issues.

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Over 18 years ago, Leav & Steinberg was founded by two partners.  Dan and Eddy had met at a prior plaintiffs firm and decided to create their own firm.  That was 1999.  They started off renting space within a small firm in lower Manhattan.  We rented just two small offices and had no staff.  We did have tons of energy and desire to be successful.  With about 29 clients we represented at our former job, the firm was founded.  After 18 years the firm has grown into one of the premier NYC personal injury firms. We now have three partners, six associates and a staff totaling 25.  Just last month Edward Steinberg was elected as the Treasurer or the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.  He continues to be a board member as well as an Officer.

The firm has represented and successfully concluded by trial, settlement, or arbitration well over $200 million dollars in cases.  We have been referred matters by firms that don’t handle plaintiff cases.  But most telling the firm has grown mostly by referrals from old happy clients.  At present, the firm represents over 900 clients.

Given the extraordinary growth, the firm had outgrown our previous Manhattan space at 14o Broadway.  As of July 1, 2017, the firm has signed a new lease for nearly 10,000 square feet at 75 Broad Street.  The firm designed the new space from scratch and has built an office that is both modern as well as exceptionally functional and built for the continued success we hope to have.

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Summer Camp

Having personally grown up in Brooklyn, spending a summer home had a few very distinct memories.  One was summer camp.  Summer camp comes with all the excitement of warm weather, playing outside and field trips.  Second was the fun of hanging out in your neighborhood and walking a few blocks here and there. On that topic, my mom always made clear that if you went a little too far left or right the neighborhood changes drastically and you have to be careful.  I always remembered that.  In some neighborhoods these “dividing lines” are clear.  One that comes to mind is Crown Heights in Brooklyn.  I will add that over the last two decades the communities that make up Crown Heights have worked very hard and had some success on bringing people together.

Camp trips are often run by the camp and the means of transportation are hired vans or buses.  More often than not the camp trip leaves from the camp and returns all campers to the camp for pick up by their parents or their return home.

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Every once in a while, we are asked by counsel already assisting an injured client, to come in and provide further legal assistance and support.  Such was the case this past week when the firm resolved a case for a man who was 64 years old working at a building inspector the  NYC Housing Preservation Department.  On January 16th, 2014 he was inspecting apartments in a Brooklyn walk up.  He spent time going over the apartment conditions with a particular tenant.  As he left the apartment and began to descend the staircase he caught his foot at the top landing on a defective edge of the step landing as well as missing landing tile.

He fell down the flight of stairs and was immediately helped by the same tenant who called 911.  Sadly he suffered from a very serious shoulder surgery which resulted in him undergoing a reverse hemiarthroplasty which is a procedure where the normal ball and socket replacement is reversed and the ball is screwed into the humerus  and the socket is drilled into the shoulder joint.  This leaves extensive limited range of motion.

The client and his wife retained a lawyer in their neighborhood who practiced in several area.  She did an excellent job working on the case in the beginning few months.  The lawyer and the client then realized this matter would require more legal expertise in the field as well as a firm ready willing and able to take this matter to trial if needed.

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Though our country has gone through a turbulent time with the recent election, we understand that many have become frustrated and upset with even discussing the topic of government and politics.  However, it has come to our attention that certain elected government officials have put forth a bill which would severely curtail the rights of all citizens and reduce our access to the Court system as well as the right to receive fair and adequate damages for serious injuries.

This week, the House will vote on a number of bills that will make it difficult for accident victims to seek justice in our nation’s courts. If these bills pass, it will make it nearly impossible for Americans, who are injured in accidents, and their families to pursue legal action. The so-called “Protection Access to Care Act of 2017” [H.R. 1215] will rig the system against us by allowing insurance companies and big corporations to prevail.

You can view the details of the bill by clicking on   HR 1215 Bill.   As you will note, the bill, sponsored by big business and the insurance lobby, sets a cap of $250,000 for all claims of pain and suffering for any person bringing a Health Care Lawsuit.  Such a lawsuit will include all claims of medical malpractice, nursing home negligence and any other claim involving any other health care provider.  If we stop for just one moment and think about this.  An elderly woman who is caused to sustain serious and permanent bed sores while in a Nursing home and suffers for 2 years in awful pain, undergoing debridement (scraping of the necrotic skin) procedures will be limited to $250,000.00 in damages.  A child who suffers a loss of oxygen due to delay and error by the doctor and nurses while being delivered and is rendered handicapped and special needs for the rest of their life; will be limited to $250,000 for their pain and suffering.

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In the Medical Malpractice arena, Plaintiffs routinely face an uphill battle.  From inception, the defendants always seek to limit our claims, and create defenses in hope of proving that the conduct of the doctor/hospital/staff was within the accepted Standard of Care.  When all discovery is complete, we find that defendants and their counsel are making Summary Judgment motions.  A motion for Summary Judgment is a motion before a trial that is made before the assigned Judge.  The defendant submits legal papers and expert affidavits stating that based upon all the evidence the Court should dismiss the case as Plaintiff can not prove that the case has meritorious arguments and should go before the jury.

The Plaintiff’s bar face these motions more and more frequently.   We vigorously oppose these motions with our own experts and affidavits.

This past month, the Medical Malpractice Unit at Leav & Steinberg, LLP was successful in defeating two motions for Summary Judgment on significant cases.

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New York City’s ban on e-cigarettes have was upheld by the Appellate Division.  New York City Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (CLASH) filed a lawsuit arguing that New York City’s 2013 ban on vaping in public places (Local Rule 152) violated the New York State Constitution by impermissibly lumping smoking traditional cigarettes and smoking electronic cigarettes into the same law. The Appellate Division disagreed with CLASH and upheld the law banning vaping in public places. 

The Court provided, in pertinent part:

“Before enacting this law, the City Council held a series of hearings, at which it heard testimony from, among others, public health advocates, representatives of electronic cigarette manufacturers, and members of the public, including plaintiff Wishtart and the founder of plaintiff NYC CLASH.  The Committee report issued following the hearings explained that electronic cigarettes are devices that contain a liquid containing nicotine, as well as varying compositions of flavorings, propylene glycol, glycerin, and other ingredients, that is heated into a vapor that the user inhales.  Although they have been marketed as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes since they were introduced in the U.S. in 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control have expressed concern about e- cigarettes’ safety for the user and non-user, samples having tested positive for carcinogens, as well as the concern that they may lead to the use of other nicotine products by young people (see https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/stateandcommunity/pdfs/cdc-osh-information-on-e-cigarettes-november-2015.pdf; https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm506676.htm#safer [last accessed 12/12/16]).”

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On the morning of Wednesday, January 4, 2017, a Long Island Railroad (LIRR) train derailed at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal during the rush hour commute injuring over a hundred (100) people, officials said.  An estimated 600 people were on the train when the crash occurred.  The train left from Far Rockaway at 7:18am and was supposed to arrive at the Atlantic Terminal at 8:11am.  The crash happened at 8:20am.

According to officials, the LIRR train derailed on Track 6 when it slammed into a bumper block at the transit hub as it pulled into the station.  The LIRR train was running about nine minutes late from its scheduled arrival time at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal.  There will likely be an investigation into the causes surrounding the crash and derailment by the Federal Railroad Administration.  Data recorders aboard the train can show the speed it was traveling and when the engineer hit the brakes (if at all) just before the crash.  While investigators have not answered many questions about the crash, the preliminary information, as being reported by the news, is that the train was going too fast as it entered the station and struck a bumper at the end of the track.

The station quickly filled with dust and smoke after the crash.  One of the passengers aboard the train described the accident as follows:  “The train suddenly slammed…We were standing and waiting to get off.  One of the doors shattered and we all fell on top of each other.”