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Hazardous Premises

$320,000 VERDICT

Premises Liability – Hazardous Premises – Plaintiff trips and falls over a rain runner in her apartment building lobby – Broken right elbow.

the doorman was actually “leaning” on a desk while the maintenance man simply proceeded with rolling up the runner.

New York County, NY

The plaintiff in this case, a female, in her early 60s, who suffers from vision maladies, claimed she tripped and fell over a rolled-up rain runner in the lobby of her apartment complex. She contended that in addition to creating the hazardous condition in the lobby, the building maintenance person and doorman failed to warn her despite having knowledge of her poor vision. The plaintiff suffered breaks in multiple parts of her elbow joint as a result of her fall. The defendant claimed an obstruction was not created in the lobby since an alternate walking path existed. The defendant additionally argued the plaintiff was adequately warned of the rain runner yet failed to heed the warnings of both the door man and the maintenance person.

Video footage of the trip and fall incident in the lobby was produced and shown during trial. Until that time, nobody had witnessed the footage, which showed the doorman leaning against a desk and the mainte- nance person, also apathetic, as the plaintiff walked through the lobby. As a result, during the trial, both men testified that what they stated in deposition was essentially wrong. The defendant was also charged by the court with a missing records charge for not producing a log book with notations about the trip and fall.

The jury awarded the plaintiff $400,000, but allotted 20% liability to the plaintiff, with a total award of $320,000.


The incident occurred on May 20, 2004 in the apart- ment building the plaintiff had lived in for nearly 30 years. At the time of the plaintiff’s fall, the building maintenance person was rolling up the runner, which the plaintiff noted was the same color as the floor in the lobby. Both the maintenance person and the doorman stated in deposition they were screaming and waving their arms in an attempt to warn the plaintiff of the runner. Contrarily, the plaintiff testified

Plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon expert: Dr. Jeffrey Kaplan, M.D. from New York, NY. Defendant’s orthopedic surgeon expert: Dr. Jeffrey Lubliner, M.D. from New York, NY.

Gerda Potocnik vs. Tracey Tenants. Index no. 106660/ 2007; Judge Louis B. York, 12-14-10.

Attorney for plaintiff: Bryan J. Swerling of Bryan J. Swerling in New York, NY. Attorney for defendant: Margaret G. Klein & Assocs. in New York, NY.

$221,000 VERDICT

Premises Liability – Hazardous Premises – Woman sues for diminished capacity as a result of lead poisoning as a child – Diminished cognitive ability.

Monroe County, NY

In this matter, a woman sued for damages associated with lead poison sustained when she was a child. The plaintiff named as defendants the landlords of two properties where she lived from the ages of three until six. One defendant did not appear. The other defendant denied the causation of the plaintiff’s disability.

The plaintiff, now 23, resided at a rental property owned by the defendant Charles S. for one year at the age of three. In the two subsequent years the de- fendant lived at another property owned by the de- fendant landlord Richard F. Blood tests done at the time on the plaintiff showed elevated levels of lead, resulting in a citation against the defendant Richard F. by the Monroe County Department of Health. While in the fifth grade, the plaintiff was classified by the Webster School District as having a learning disability.

The plaintiff has since reached adulthood, and ar- gues that lead exposure has adversely affected her cognitive ability and as a result, earning capacity.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability suit in the Su- preme Court of New York, Monroe County. Named as defendants in the petition were the landlords Charles Stern and Richard F., at whose properties the plaintiff had resided during the period in question. Damages were sought for future economic losses as a result of the plaintiff’s neurological condition.

The plaintiff showed at trial records of the lead paint citation by the Monroe County Department of Health. The plaintiff further brought expert testimony from a neuropsychologist and pediatrician on the matter of causation. The defendant Richard F. denied that the plaintiff’s condition was caused by lead poisoning and gave a number of alternative causes. The co- defendant did not present at trial via representation or in person.

After three hours of deliberation, a Rochester jury re- turned a $221,000 verdict for the plaintiff’s future eco- nomic losses, addressing the neurological consequences of her lead poisoning and its effect on

Volume 28, Issue 9, September 2011

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