New York — This 63-year-old woman suffered severe burns when she was scalded by burning hot water in the bathtub of her Manhattan apartment. She was upset with the building’s manager and owner for keeping the water in the boiler so dangerously hot. After consulting with an personal injury lawyer expert at Morrison & Wagner, the woman decided to sue the building’s owner and manager for damages. They recovered $350,000 in a successful settlement.
Illustrative Photo Credit: Laurel Kate Sittig [License]
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Apartment’s tenant scalded in tub, claimed boiler was defective (VerdictSearch)
Settlement Amount: $350,000
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Court: New York Supreme, New York County, New York
Injury Type(s): leg; burns – third degree; surgeries/treatment – skin graft
Case Type: Premises Liability – Apartment, Tenant’s Injury, Negligent Repair and/or Maintenance
Date: January 24, 2011
Eric H. Morrison; Morrison & Wagner; New York, NY
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On Jan. 31, 2008, the plaintiff, a 63-year-old unemployed woman, was scalded while she was bathing in her residence, an apartment building that was located in the Hamilton Heights section of Manhattan.
The woman sued the building’s owner and the building’s manager. She alleged that the defendants were negligent in their maintenance of the premises.
The injured woman claimed that she entered her bathtub while the water was running at a comfortable temperature, but that the water’s temperature quickly reached a scalding level. The plaintiff’s counsel retained a boiler-safety expert, who examined the building’s water heater and claimed that its thermostat was set to 180 degrees Fahrenheit — 55 degrees greater than the temperature that had been recommended by the boiler’s manufacturer. The burn victim’s counsel also suggested that the thermostat may have been defective.
Defense counsel contended that the New York City Administrative Code specified that the thermostat’s setting had to exceed 120 degrees. She also contended that the building’s tenants had been told that they were not to bathe without first filling the tub and checking the water’s temperature. She claimed that the building’s staff had not received any written complaints of scalding water.
The plaintiff claimed that she sustained third-degree burns of her legs. She underwent the application of grafts of skin, and her treating surgeon opined that the legs have healed without any scars or residual effects.
The injury victim sought recovery of damages for her past pain and suffering.
Defense counsel moved for summary judgment. She contended that New York law specifies that an apartment building’s tenant retains a duty to temper hot water prior to use. In response, plaintiff’s counsel contended that a jury would have to consider the possibility that the boiler’s thermostat was defective. During pendency of the motion, the parties negotiated a settlement. The defendants’ insurer agreed to pay $350,000, from a policy that provided $1 million of coverage.
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Judge: Richard F. Braun
Editor’s Comment: This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s and defense counsel.