Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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Leav & Steinberg, LLP attorney Edward Averbuch obtains $1,000,000 judgment for client at inquest.  On February 9, 2014, our client was walking along 45th Street in Brooklyn when he slipped and fell on ice on the sidewalk.  As a result of the slip and fall he seriously injured his right shoulder.  Shortly after the incident, our client began a course of physical therapy.  After several months of intensive therapy with little to no improvement, our client’s physicians recommended surgical intervention.  He underwent arthroscopic surgery which is a surgery performed through several small incisions at the surgery site.  Typically a tiny camera will be inserted through one incision and tiny tools will be inserted through two or more other incisions for the surgeon to perform the procedure.  Thereafter, our client began another course of physical therapy, again with little to no improvement.  At that point our client underwent manipulation under anesthesia, which is a procedure where the patient is anesthetized, and the doctor forces the shoulder to move in ways which cause the capsule and scar tissue to stretch or tear.  After a third round of physical therapy, still with little to no improvement, he was recommended to undergo an arthroplasty which is total replacement of the ball and socket of the shoulder.  Typically, the ball is replaced with a metal ball with a stem which pressed to fit into the inside of the humerus (upper arm bone) and the socket is resurfaced with a high-density polyethylene.  Our client underwent a 4th round of physical therapy until his doctors advised him that he reached maximum medial improvement.

Leav & Steinberg filed suit on behalf of our client and the defendants defaulted, which means they did not answer the lawsuit.  Thereafter an inquest hearing was held for the court to determine a reasonable award for the pain and suffering our client has gone through and will continue to go through as a result of his injuries.  At the hearing, Mr. Averbuch presented proof of our client’s injuries and our client testified about his injuries and how this incident has affected him.  At the conclusion of Mr. Averbuch’s presentation, the Honorable Lawrence Knipel entered an award of $1,000,000 on our client’s behalf.

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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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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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Around 7 A.M. this morning, New York’s Bravest responded to a 911 call for an odor of gas in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx. It turned out that the home was being used as an illegal marijuana grow house. The house exploded causing flying debris to strike an FDNY Batallion Chief, mortally wounding him. The 17-year fire veteran leaves behind a wife and three children.

Also injured in the blast were nine firefighters, six police officers, three ConEd workers, and two civilians.

The owner of the house rather inexplicably states that he knew little about the renters and what they were doing; he claims that no one told him an illegal drug operation was being run from his property. Neighbors profess that there were shady things going on at the property which was always surrounded by luxury cars, unlike in years past, when college kids would rent the property.

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When Lt. Brendan Connolly a New York City Firefighter was responding to a local emergency, the dangers of being a firefighter were always in the back of his mind.  Smoke, trapped locations, innocent victims needing help.

However, the roads of New York City are often so dilipadated and filled with potholes and ruts that when his fire truck hit a recurring defect in a city street of Cypress Hills, Queens his life would change forever.

As reported here in the New York Post, Lt. Connolly fractured his spine and has been rendered disabled from working because of a sinkhole that has been recurring.  Neighbors report that this problem has been recurring for years.  Yet, the ability to legally recover against the City of New York for this defect is fraught with many hurdles.  Some nearly impossible to overcome.

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As the summer is winding down, I was thankful that my three kids will be returning home from sleep away camp this weekend.  Seven weeks of organized fun, controlled environment with loving and caring counselors and directors to make sure that my kids and others are safe.  As a personal injury lawyer, I am always concerned about the safety of individuals and was thinking of some of the recent camp cases my firm has handled.

When you sign up to send your child to camp, you are entrusting them with the duty to provide your child with a safe and reasonable environment.  Camp activities include, sports, waterfront activities, art, music, as well as many intercamp Olympics and color war.  Some of the greatest memories kids have are those made during these summers.

Yet, many camps fail to provide the most basic when it comes to reasonable care for the safety of its children.  Recently, I represented a young boy who was at a camp.  They had a banana boat ride.  Many of you may know that this is the ride where 4-5 kids sit on a banana shaped tube and a motor boat pulls the kids.  The goal was usually a fun ride along the lake.  Of course, the counselors and probably the kids, in an effort to make it more “exciting”, have the motor boat drive in a way to cause the banana boat to twist and turn in the wake and knock the kids into the lake.  Seems harmless.  Well it would be if you provided the kids with safety rules and guidelines.  What if the child sitting in the front of the boat, closest to the rope, is not given any hand signals in which to convey that they are not feeling safe or feel like they may fall forward into the rope towards the engine of the boat pulling the banana float.  The sound of the engine and the noise from the movement is such that you cant verbally communicate.  Such was the case and my client suffered a severe laceration (over 100 sutures) from his shoulder around his arm onto his forearm.  This left a lasting scar and permanent residual problems.  Leav & Steinberg, LLP was able to prove that the activity was being performed in a dangerous way with inadequate supervision and training of the counselors and a lack of communication with the campers.   Though the camp felt this was not a case, we were successful in proving otherwise and resulted in a significant award for the child and a recovery of his medical bills.

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Earlier today, a crane collapsed across the span of the Tappan Zee Bridge resulting in injuries to at least three people as they swerved to avoid fallen debris. The crane collapse has caused a shutdown of the outdated and structurally insufficient bridge wreaking havoc on traffic in the area. The bridge is closed indefinitely.

The crane was being used in the construction efforts of a new Tappan Zee Bridge. The construction project, a $4 billion endeavor, has already seen several other major incidents resulting in deaths. In March, a 90-foot tugboat sank after it hit a construction barge near the bridge site, killing three crew members. In 2013, a powerboat plowed into a construction barge at the bridge, killing a bride-to-be and her fiancé’s best man.

There has been no shortage in crane accidents in the recent past, and despite the high stakes of these construction projects and the obvious need for safety, these accidents continue to happen. The engineers and contractors who are responsible for the placement, operation, management, inspection and control of these cranes must uphold their duty to ensure that these types of accidents don’t occur.

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During the summer of 2013 our client, a 10 year old boy from New Jersey was injured while playing football at a field located in Manhattan. The game was organized by youth football league and held at a field owned by the City of New York.  During the course of the game our client sustained a fractured wrist after being tackled and landing on the base of a soccer goal.  Unfortunately, when the field was set up for the football game a soccer goal was placed on the side of the field causing an increased risk to the players.

Since this case involved at least one municipal defendant we were required under New York Law to file a Notice of Claim against the City of New York within 90 days. After the Notice of Claim was filed the City of New York is given the opportunity to conduct what is called a 50-h hearing to determine the facts surrounding the accident.  Once the 50-h hearing was held we then filed a lawsuit naming both the City of New York and the private youth football league as defendants.

Both defendants tried to argue that that there was no liability against their respective clients since our client “assumed the risk” of injury by paying football, which is an inherently dangerous game.  Alexander Kran, III of Leav & Steinberg successfully argued that this was not an “assumption of  risk” case since the defendants had increased the risk of injury to our client by placing the metal soccer goal next to the field where our client was playing football.  Therefore, it is important to always protect your legal rights and consult with one of the attorneys at Leav & Steinberg so that we can examine the facts and circumstances and provide you with our legal advice.