2013, the last year for which we have conclusive records, was huge for personal injury plaintiffs in New York. With uncommon regularity, victims won, and when they did, they won big. Here's our countdown of New York's largest verdicts and settlements. New York Magazine has a comprehensive chart.
These results just go to show that justice can carry the day in this country. This article is brought to you by our personal injury lawyers in NYC.
Assenzio v. A.O. Smith Water Products, Co., $190 million
On July, 23 2013, New York's Supreme Court handed down one of its largest verdicts of all time. A whopping $190 million, intended to make five men whole after they contracted mesothelioma, an aggressive form of lung cancer, due to asbestos exposure.
The verdict was shocking not only for its size, but also because it defied many expectations. Asbestos' significant dangers have been well known since at least the 1980s. The intervening years saw billions paid to victims by negligent private contractors and industrial manufacturers. But its the 21st Century now, and many legal scholars thought that large asbestos settlements had all but dried up.
The five New York City residents had all worked in contact with water heaters manufactured by A.O. Smith Water Products. Two were plumbers, two steam fitters, the last a painter. Crucially, A.O. Smith failed to warn consumers and workers that may of its most popular products contained dangerous amounts of asbestos.
Reilly v. Ninia, $130 million
November 1, 2002, Suffolk County. Danni and Frank Reilly, residents of Bayport, New York, were overjoyed, and understandably nervous, as they entered St. Charles Hospital and Rehabilitation Center. Danni was in labor, with a healthy baby who would soon be named Shannon. But a placental rupture called for emergency C-section; obstetrician Jerry Ninia performed the surgery.
Something went wrong. Shannon was born with cerebral palsy, a crippling neurological disorder that leaves sufferers unable to move and often, unable to communicate. Surprisingly, many of the couples' charges fell upon their nurse, rather than Ninia himself. In all, she departed from reasonable obstetric protocols in seven different ways. The couple also alleged that Danni was instructed to begin pushing prematurely, which led to the rupture of her placenta and the tragedy that came after.
The press was shocked to learn that the Reilly Family had passed on an $8 million settlement back in 2009. Their attorney advised against the deal and, after almost 4 years of litigation, including appeals, the move to trial paid off. The Reilly's were ultimately awarded $130 million.
Andino v. Mills, $31 million
This case is particularly odd because it featured a police officer as the plaintiff.
On August 18, 2004, Niurka Andino, a police sergeant, was riding shotgun in a cop car. Officer Rafael Villegas was behind the wheel. As the two approached the Bronx's Pelham Parkway, they fielded a call over the dispatch radio: an armed robbery was underway. Villegas quickly flipped on his vehicle's emergency light and blaring sirens. The two sped off to respond.
As they entered an intersection, their car was struck by an SUV, owned by the New York City Transit Authority (NYCT) and operated by Ronald Mills. Andino suffered numerous injuries, including a hemorrhaged spinal disc that left her hand useless. After five years of physical therapy, Andino attempted to return to the force, but couldn't. Her psychiatrist concluded that her residual injuries had caused total disability. She was forced to retire.
In her case, Andino argued that Mills' had operated his car negligently, failing to yield to a police vehicle on emergency duty. She also claimed that the NYCT was partially liable for Mills' actions. The jury found Mills and the Transit Authority completely responsible for Andino's injuries, awarding her $31 million, including $23 million for future pain and suffering.
Sence v. Atoynatan, $24.8 million
Jaelin Sence was born in 2007, in New York Methodist Hospital. While his mother, Myrtho Sence, expressed concern over her child's yellowing skin, nurse's repeatedly assured her that jaundice was common among newborns and would go away soon. The family was discharged less than two days after Jaelin's birth.
Tragically, the boy's condition worsened, until vomiting led his parents back to the emergency room. At Kings County Hospital, Jaelin was diagnosed with hyperbilirubinemia, a severe form of jaundice that can lead to cerebral palsy. And while doctors were able to save Jaelin's life, they could not prevent massive brain damage. Jaelin, who is now six years old, now lives his life in a wheelchair. The boy has never spoken a word.
In 2013, a jury found Methodist Hospital's staff negligent for failing to treat Jaelin's jaundice. His family was awarded $24,813,260.
Bajramaj v. Ciminello Industrial Property Associates, LLC, $20 million
Ljuan Bajramaj, a construction worker, was building a new Home Depot in the Bronx. In order to install a required fire hydrant, Bajramaj descended into a deep trench to turn off the water main. A coworker lowered him a circular saw, and he began cutting. Then, the excavation caved in, burying Bajramaj along with his saw. Crucially, the saw's safety had been taped shut, and would not stop spinning when Ljuan's finger left its trigger.
Bajramaj sustained severe injuries, including lacerations to his head and shoulders from the saw, and a torn rotator cuff from the crushing dirt. In his case, Ljuan argued that Ciminello Industrial, the project's managing contractor, had never permitted the trench. Nor had the installed any shoring, required on all trenches deeper than four feet. Tampering with construction equipment to override safety mechanisms is also illegal.
On July 2, 2013, the jury returned its verdict. The contractors supervising the site would bear 90% of the liability for Ljuan's injuries, and pay him $20,026,366.
Were you hurt, and suspect that another person's negligence is to blame? With the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer, you may be able to hold them accountable. Learn more about our attorney's impressive record of success here.
Banville Law offers free consultations to all injury victims. Call us today to learn if you have a case!
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