Articles Posted in Litigation Strategies

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Leav & Steinberg, LLP is committed to excellence and client satisfaction. One may ask how this is accomplished? Where does Leav & Steinberg win their cases? The answer is simple. We win our cases at intake. From the second our clients walk through our doors; our firm is dedicated to achieving the most favorable outcome.

A young man was injured on his motorcycle when the defendant was making an illegal U-turn and struck him causing him to be thrown off his motorcycle. He then retained Leav & Steinberg, LLP where one of our associates met him at the hospital at his request. Our client sustained serious personal injuries and required approximately five surgeries after breaking his left leg in two places.

The defendant contested liability in that he denied that his vehicle ever came into contact with our client.

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Leav & Steinberg, LLP is pleased to report the resolution of a recent case.  Our client, after being unhappy with her first attorney, retained us to represent her.  She was employed as a Visiting Nurse and would have to travel to patient’s homes for consultation and evaluation for home nursing services.  On the date of accident, she was inside a building in the Bronx with a translator and security guard.   As the elevator went up, it suddenly stopped, and according to the client, then dropped and suddenly stopped short.   While her body was jostled about, she admitted that she did not fall to the ground.

She reported the accident to the building who in turn claim they checked it along with an elevator service company and the elevator was found to be working in normal order.   Our client, began feeling severe pain in her knee and back.   She was unable to return to work for a period of time and ultimately underwent surgery for a torn meniscus in the knee.  Furthermore, to treat her spine injury which involved her discs, she underwent a radiofrequency nerve ablation.  This procedure entails having a needle placed below the skin and with heat, the nerve is burned at the point it is impinged by the disc.  While the nerve will regenerate, the hope is that it will regenerate just slightly off the disc and relieve some of the pressure on the nerve.

When first retained, it became clear that our office would need to prove a history of problems with the elevator.  As our client, did not live in the building and did not know anyone there, partner Daniela Henriques, took the lead and began conducting an exhaustive search of the DOB (Department of Buildings).  Through her research and subpeonas we discovered a history of problems with the subject elevator.  This was the first part of her effort to prove liability and lock the defendant in to being responsible.   Under NY Law a party must exchange all work records, maintenance records and repair records.  Here the building owner, claimed that due to a flood, all records were destroyed and then the building was sold so any attempt at searching records would not reveal anything.  While this may sound good, it is the plaintiff’s burden to prove the defendant knew about the dangers with the elevator and took insufficient steps to remedy.  The fear is always that at trial or just before, suddenly the defendant will reveal records showing that the elevator was working and a recent, prior to accident, inspection revealed no problems.    Daniela Henriques, as partner and in charge of our Motion/Appeal department, she moved for an Order precluding the defendant from ever offering any evidence or testifying to anything regarding their reasonable maintenance of the elevator.   This motion was granted and put us in a position of strength.

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During the construction phase of 1 World Trade Center, a 44 year-old laborer was caused to slip and fall from a ladder while working.  The ladder was supposed to be fixed with a kicker at the bottom and tied off at the top.  Though the client used the ladder during the morning work session without issue, he claimed that the kicker and tie-off were subsequently removed before he had his accident.  While on the ladder working at a height above, the ladder slipped and he fell approximately 15 feet.

He reported the incident at the scene and was taken home by a co-worker. He returned the next day but could not complete the tasks required of him.  He began to complain of pain to his neck and back.  The injured worker had prior back surgery but it was his position, which we supported with medical evidence and the fact that he returned to work for the last 10 years, that the prior injury had resolved and this new accident resulted in new complaints of pain.

The firm was retained and we immediately spoke with and secured several witnesses who saw the accident and/or the aftermath and would corroborate the client’s version.

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When you send your children off to camp, the hope is that they will be in a safe environment cared for by individuals who will treat them as their own children.  Leav & Steinberg was retained by the family of a 14 year old boy who was at sleep away camp in the summer of 2015.  He was a camper but also being given the opportunity to be a Counselor-in-Training (CIT).  That role usually includes working in the cafeteria or with other campers.  This camp allowed our client to work in the kitchen.  They allowed him to fry eggs, boil corn and handle other hot items.  He was not old enough under the law to have “working papers” and was given no instruction.

One day he was told to boil corn and take it off the stove onto a rolling cart.  He did this as told without any supervision. The water spilled onto his leg and into his sneaker. He immediately ran outside and took his sneaker off.  A nurse on duty came over and told him it was nothing too serious, really just a first degree burn. She assured him things would be okay and put a band aid on it and some ointment.   She called his parents and told them the same.  A hospital was only 15 minutes away by car.  She never took him.

As days passed, she continued to change the dressing and assured him it was okay.  Sadly, it was not.  Approximately 5 days later a doctor for the camp showed up, saw the boy’s foot and immediately told him to call his parents and have them come and get him.    His father picked him up and what he saw shocked him.   He rushed him back home and right to the burn unit at a local hospital. He remained there for several days undergoing a debridement procedure where the damaged skin is removed in hope of healthy skin growing back.  He was restricted from school sports activities for the following semester of school.

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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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In July 2011 a 54 year old worker from the Bronx fell on a defective and dangerous staircase. He immediately felt pain to his knee and shoulder. He was transported from the scene and left with a knee brace and told to follow up. Over the following few weeks, he felt pain in his lower back; pain that was becoming disabling.

The client retained Leav & Steinberg to represent him for the serious injuries. Immediately after being retained, L&S set up an inspection of the premises so that we could ensure that the staircase was inspected and we would be able to prove it was negligently maintained.

We commenced litigation and after a short time, the defendant and their insurance suggested we sit down at a mediation. The client had undergone a knee and shoulder arthroscopic surgery at this point. At the mediation, they extended an offer of $150,000.00 in full settlement. Partner Daniela Henriques advised the client that at this stage the settlement was less than adequate and moreover the medical course of treatment revealed that his lumbar spine was becoming worse. We suggested he reject the offer and we proceeded forward.

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On November 22, 2016, a 6,500 pound I-beam became loose as it was hoisted into place at a construction site in Briarwood, Queens.  The I-beam fell four stories, killing a crane operator and a flag man.  A link with more information about the accident can be found here.  New York City has many laws and safety regulations which protect workers and other individuals at and near construction sites.

Despite such laws, those in the construction industry, often working within tight time and financial constraints, push the limits of those laws and of safe construction.  This can often result in tragedy.

When choosing a law firm to represent someone killed during construction, the surviving members of the family must consider all aspects of the firm’s background, experience, ability to take the case to trial as well and most importantly the firm’s reputations among the defense and insurance industry.

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Brooklyn resident, Frank Musella, a 37 year old married father of two young boys,  was doing his usual work at the Department of Sanitation in Staten Island on July 29th, 2015 when he began having chest pain.  He went outside and was found immediately unresponsive, having suffered what appeared to be a heart attack.  911 and EMS were called.  From reports received, and due to ongoing issues with the EMS transmission radio system and its WI-FI network, delay occurred in getting to him.  This delay, it is claimed may have created the inability to revive and treat him.  He passed away later that day at Staten Island University Hospital.  An autopsy performed showed that he had severe blockage in his arteries.  He had regular check ups with his doctors and was always told he was okay except for high cholesterol.

Leav & Steinberg, LLP was retained to investigate the circumstances of his death including the delay by EMS as well as the medical care provided by his primary care doctor and a cardiologist who had seen him in months and years prior, but failed to diagnose any emergent cardiac condition.

A suit has been filed naming the City of New York and their EMS service for negligence.

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Chicago-Marathon
This blog is often filled with stories of clients who have sustained serious life altering injuries and have asked LEAV & STEINBERG, LLP to represent them in seeking the legal justice and adequate compensation due to the negligent actions of others.  Very often the cases take years to progress through litigation.  Very often at each step of the way (depositions, discovery inspections, physical exams) there are pitfalls and things that must be carefully planned in order to achieve success.  The outcome is usually a result of the hard work in preparation.  My personal life over these past six months is quite similar.

As this weekend approaches, I have been checking the weather in Chicago for Sunday.  Mostly sunny, high of 65 and low of 52.   Looks like perfect running weather.  If it was only that simple.  I made the decision to enter the lottery to run the Chicago Marathon about 6 months ago.  Luckily I got in.  That was where the hard work begins.  I have trained for the last 4 months with six days of working out and varied my runs with heart rate training, pacing sessions, and interval speed work.  The goal, to qualify for the Boston Marathon for April 2018.

I have previously run 4 marathons and have gotten within 4 minutes of qualifying.  That has not stopped my determination.  I am hopeful this year will be the year.  I am focused and mentally ready.  As my trainer has told me…the hay is in the barn….  time to run…  The last few weeks are tapering weeks so the running has decreased and the level of rest increased.  This can be tough as many of you on the east coast know….its mallomar season.

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Ladder accident
On August 10, 2012, while climbing down a ladder at work our client was caused to fall when the ladder tipped over as a result of being placed on wet Masonite. On the date of the accident the client was a 33 year old non-union electrical worker.  He left the job site by cab but upon arriving home he was in such excruciating pain he went to the Emergency Room.  He was admitted and diagnosed with a fracture to his pelvis and a herniation to his lower back.  The client tried to treat conservatively with physical therapy.  In February of 2013 the client attempted to return to work but due to his pain he was forced to go back out on Workers Compensation.   A former client of Leav & Steinberg, who knew the plaintiff from the neighborhood was discussing his accident and pointed out that he should speak with an attorney and recommended Leav & Steinberg given the success we had for him in the past.  After this meeting, the client contacted our office and retained us.

Leav & Steinberg, LLP immediately filed a lawsuit alleging Labor Law Sections 240(1) and 241(6), specifically Rule 23 Section 1-21(b)(4)(ii). Over the course of the next two years the client was required to undergo two surgeries; (1) for a torn labrum in his hip and (2) a lumbar fusion in order to stabilize the vertebrae at L4-5.  Leav & Steinberg, LLP completed discovery and had the matter placed on the trail calendar less than 3 years after the date of accident.  The parties participated in Mediation where an offer of $1,500,000.00 was made.  Upon the legal advice of Leav & Steinberg, LLP this offer was rejected by the client.  A motion was also made by Daniela F. Henriques, Esq., for partial summary judgment on the issue of liability pursuant to Labor Law Section 240(1).  The motion was still pending on the date of the settlement.  The defendants’ position on the motion was that the accident was caused solely by the decision of the plaintiff to use equipment that was not safe and not secured.

In light of the fact that the trial was scheduled for October, 2016, the defendant’s again requested that we participate in a second non-binding mediation.   They further argued that the client had made a good recovery and that his work history was sporadic.  In addition, they argued that given his intelligence and other skills he could return to employment and earn an equal salary; even if not as an electrician.