$2.75 Million Premises Liability — Woman Suffers Broken Neck, Brain Injury From Falling Object

New York – A woman was walking along when a piece of stone facade collapsed off the side of a Brooklyn building. The collapse debris hit her in the head and neck, leaving her with a spinal fracture in her neck and a traumatic brain injury with concussion. After being hospitalized for several weeks and undergoing fusion surgery of her neck, the woman sought the legal guidance of the experts at Morrison & Wagner to file a negligent repair negligence lawsuit. They settled the case with the defendants agreeing to pay the injury victim $2,750,000.

Photo for illustrative purposes only. Credit: Bruce Monroe [License]

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Woman’s neck fractured by falling piece of building’s facade (VerdictSearch by Priya Idiculla)

Settlement: $2,750,000

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Court: Kings Supreme, Kings County, New York

Injury Type(s): brain damage; cognition, impairment; compression fracture; concussion; corpectomy; discectomy; effusion; finger; fracture, C4; fracture, neck; fracture, vertebra; fusion, cervical; hand; hardware implanted; head; memory impairment; physical therapy; pneumonia; shoulder; sutures; traumatic brain injury; trigger point injection; vertigo

Case Type: Premises Liability – Negligent Repair and/or Maintenance – Falling Object

Date: November 4, 2016

Plaintiff Attorney(s):
Eric H. Morrison; Morrison & Wagner; New York, NY

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Facts & Allegations:
On Sept. 22, 2014, the plaintiff, an unemployed woman, was struck by a limestone fragment that had fallen off of the fourth-story facade of a building located in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn. The woman sustained injuries of her head and neck.

The woman sued the premises’ owner and the premises’ manager. She alleged that the defendants were negligent in their maintenance of the premises. She further alleged that the defendants’ negligence caused the accident.

The plaintiff’s counsel contended that the accident was a result of prolonged neglect of the building’s exterior. He contended that photographs depicted chips, cracks and other irregularities of the facade.

Defense counsel contended that the accident may have been a result of erosion caused by power-washing of the building, but he ultimately conceded liability.

The injury victim’s head was struck and lacerated by the limestone fragment. She was placed in an ambulance, and she was transported to Lutheran Medical Center, in Brooklyn. Doctors determined that she sustained a concussion and a compression fracture of her C4 vertebra. Her scalp’s laceration was closed via application of sutures. After four days had passed, she underwent surgery that included a corpectomy, which involved excision of her C4 vertebra; a discectomy, which involved excision of the anterior portion of her C3-4 and C4-5 intervertebral discs; fusion of the anterior region of her spine’s C3-4 and C4-5 levels; and implantation of a stabilizing cage. During her convalescence, she developed pneumonia and pleural effusion. Her hospitalization lasted about two weeks. She subsequently underwent physical therapy and a pain-management regimen, which included administration of painkilling trigger-point injections.

The accident victim claimed that her head’s injury caused damage of her brain, with residual effects that included confusion, disorientation, vertigo, and impairment of her memory and other elements of her cognition. She also claimed that her neck remains painful, that the pain radiates to her shoulders, and that her fingers and hands experience occasional tingling sensations. She undergoes periodic physical therapy.

The plaintiff sought recovery of past medical expenses, future medical expenses, damages for past pain and suffering, and damages for future pain and suffering.

Defense counsel contended that the woman did not sustain an injury of the brain.

After selection of a jury, but prior to the scheduled start of the trial, the parties negotiated a settlement. The defendant’s primary insurer tendered its policy, which provided $1 Million of coverage, and the defendant’s excess insurer agreed to pay $1.75 Million. Thus, the settlement totaled $2.75 Million. Defense counsel claimed that, had a trial occurred, a discovery issue may have prevented the plaintiff’s counsel’s presentation of a safety expert who had been retained.

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Judge: Judge Donald Kurtz

Editor’s Note: This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s counsel and defense counsel. Additional information was gleaned from court documents.

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