Tag Archives: emotional injuries

$500,000 Total Settlement -- Woman Claims Emotional Suffering Due to Wrongful Imprisonment, Malpractice

New York — This 27-year-old woman was pregnant when she was arrested in the Bronx. She was then held without bail for 79 days despite the fact that she insisted there was a mistaken identity. She was held based on a warrant out of Kentucky for someone with the same name and date of birth. Her baby was born while the woman was still in jail. The woman contended that her lawyer and the City of New York did not listen to her and were liable for emotional injuries that they caused. She came to the injury law firm of Morrison & Wagner and filed a lawsuit. They negotiated a settlement for $500,000 to compensate the victim.

Illustrative Photo Credit: Sara Jo [License]

— — —

Arrestee claimed lawyer, DA, ignored mistaken-identity proof (VerdictSearch)

Total Settlement Amount: $500,000

— — —

Court: Bronx Supreme, Bronx County, New York

Injury Type(s):
mental/psychological – emotional distress

Case Type: Government – Police, Municipalities; Legal Profession – Malpractice; Government – False Imprisonment; Intentional Torts – False Arrest; Worker/Workplace Negligence – Negligent Training

Date: March 21, 2012

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

— — —


On Feb. 2, 2007, the plaintiff, a 27-year-old unemployed pregnant woman, was arrested. Firearms, marijuana and a scale — apparently used for the processing of illegal drugs — had been found in her residence, an apartment building that was located in the Concourse section of the Bronx. The plaintiff’s boyfriend, who shared the apartment, was also arrested.

During the processing of the woman’s arrest, a police officer learned that the state of Kentucky had an outstanding warrant for a woman with the same name whose birth date matched that of he plaintiff in the instant case. As such, the the plaintiff was deemed a flight risk and denied bail.

The woman claimed that she was not the woman who was the subject of Kentucky’s warrant. Her lawyer was unable to prove that claim, and the plaintiff’s imprisonment lasted 79 days — until the district attorney determined that the materials found in her department were her boyfriend’s possessions and until Kentucky officials located the woman who was the actual subject of the warrant. During her imprisonment, the woman’s baby was born.

The plaintiff sued the city of New York. She alleged that she was falsely arrested and imprisoned, that the city was negligent in its oversight and training of the district attorney who managed her case, and that the actions of the district attorney and the arresting police officer constituted a violation of her civil rights and allowed recovery via application of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

In a separate filing, the woman sued her former lawyer. She alleged that he failed to properly defend her case. She further alleged that his failure constituted malpractice.

The cases were consolidated.

The plaintiff claimed that her former lawyer and the district attorney ignored evidence that confirmed that she was not the individual who was the subject of Kentucky’s warrant. She contended that medical, prison and school records demonstrated that she and the other woman had different middle names, different facial features and different skin tone. She claimed that the documents were given to her lawyer and the district attorney, but that neither party’s files or records indicate that a mistaken-identity defense had been asserted or investigated.

The arrested woman also claimed that her former lawyer failed to rigorously assert a defense and instead repeatedly recommended extradition.

The city’s counsel contended that the plaintiff’s former lawyer did not assert a mistaken-identity defense. They claimed that such an assertion would have triggered an immediate investigation. They also claimed that the plaintiff’s fingerprints matched those of the woman who was the subject of Kentucky’s warrant.

The jailed woman’s former lawyer contended that he repeatedly contacted the district attorney’s office to assert a mistaken-identity defense. He also noted that the plaintiff’s imprisonment lasted 79 days — one day short of the state penal code’s 80-day requirement for timely discharges.


The plaintiff endured 79 days of imprisonment. Her child was born during her imprisonment.

The woman sought recovery of economic damages and damages for her past and future emotional suffering. Her former lawyer was not legally liable for noneconomic damages.


The parties negotiated a pretrial settlement. The city agreed to pay $495,000, and the plaintiff’s former lawyer agreed to pay $5,000. Thus, the settlement totaled $500,000.

— — —

Judge: Larry S. Schachner

Editor’s Comment: This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s counsel and counsel of the city of New York. The lawyer’s counsel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls.

$250,000 Payment to Passenger Injured in Truck Accident

Ruth Pianka, a 57-year-old bookkeeper, was a passenger in a truck when it was rear ended in a motor vehicle crash in the Washington Heights section of New York City. She sustained multiple injuries during the truck accident and was treated in the emergency room and then by several specialist doctors. The doctors diagnosed injuries of her shoulder, hip and knee. The crash victim also had neck and back injuries with significant pain. She underwent a shoulder surgery and endured therapy as well. The pain and injuries persisted and she developed emotional injuries in addition to the physical injuries.

Soon after the accident, Ms. Pianka spoke to friends in the neighborhood who recommended she contact the experienced car accident lawyers at Morrison & Wagner, LLP. They assisted the truck accident victim and filed a personal injury lawsuit in Kings County Supreme Court. The case named both the owner of the truck and the driver of the car that hit them as defendants. After negotiation, the defendants agreed to settle the case, paying Ms. Pianka $250,000 for her injuries, pain and suffering from the rear-end accident.

Photo by Werner Vermaak (originally posted to Flickr as Immobilized Patient) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Long Island gas station fire causes multiple injuries

New York – A closed gas station in Nassau County, NY was the scene of a dangerous fire that injured at least four people this week. Fire department officials explained that three workers were injured while doing construction renovation on the gas station’s fuel tanks and one fire fighter suffered from dehydration while working at the scene. They note that the gas tanks caught on fire when fumes from residual gas sparked into flames. According to reports, the gas station was closed and the fuel tanks were being removed by an environmental and construction company. It is unclear as to why the station was closed and who was responsible to make sure that the gas tanks were empty and safe. Safety inspections will be necessary to determine if the owner of the property, as well as the employers of the injured workers, had followed proper protocols to ensure the health and safety of the public and their employees. The town mayor of Freeport explained that the workmen were taken to the hospital for multiple burn injuries and the fireman was treated in the emergency room as well. Further details about their injuries and recovery are unavailable at this time. However, trauma specialists note that the nature of this work accident can leave the injury victims with permanent disabilities, preventing them from returning to work or even their normal lives. These can include inhalation burns, physical disfigurement and emotional injuries. Worker’s comp insurance should cover the cost of treatment of their injuries but some victims find it necessary to seek legal advice regarding their rights. See this article for further details about these fire victims and injuries.

Illustrative Photo Credit: Loco Steve [License]