Our client slipped and fell walking down a two-step wet tiled stairway to reach the stalls in the women’s bathroom of the defendant’s Church, landing on her lower back. On the 7th day of trial in Manhattan Supreme Court the defendant Church changed their no-pay position and offered $500,000. This was one of the few trials taking place during COVID 19 with everyone in the courtroom wearing masks and the jury watching the testimony from two television monitors.
Trial attorney and partner Brett J. Nomberg of BBNR subpoenaed the defendant’s bathroom attendant, Treasurer, handyman, and the corporate secretary to testify on the plaintiff’s case. We also subpoenaed defendant’s engineering expert, Michael Kravitz, P.E. and their expert orthopedist. Defense counsel told the trial judge that he had never seen a plaintiff’s attorney subpoena all his witnesses to testify. Our successful endgame was to demonstrate the bathroom was unsafe and a cause of the accident even before the plaintiff had testified. We also used their expert orthopedist to introduce the plaintiff’s injuries and mitigate their defenses.
We presented evidence showing the defendant knew before the accident that the bathroom “gets slippery” and was “a little bit dangerous.” We presented testimony showing the defendant knew the bathroom would regularly flood 2-3 times a month during large services which occurred on the evening of the accident.
We used the defendant’s expert to show the two stair risers were different heights and the bottom of the stairway landing sloped downwards at a 7.3% incline. Their expert also conceded that this stairway was not constructed to proper engineering standards when it was built.
MR. NOMBERG: Were the risers constructed in accordance with the standards that existed in the 1980’s; can you answer that with a yes or no?
MR. DESANTIS: Your Honor, my objection is on the record for all of this. Okay.
THE COURT: Yes, overruled. He can answer.
A: They were not constructed to the standards of the 1980’s.
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MR. NOMBERG: So in 1918 were there building codes that allowed a bottom landing to slope at 7.3 percent?
A: It could be if there’s a drain in that bathroom for when they wash the floors.
MR. NOMBERG: Did you look inside that bathroom?
A: I did and I did not see a drain.
We demonstrated that their engineer’s friction test to show the slipperiness of the tiles was not conducted on the actual tiles where the plaintiff slipped. We used a calculator to show his own results literally did not add up and asked why a jury should accept his engineering results if he could not do simple arithmetic.
This bathroom according to the defendant had not been inspected for general safety in over 30 years and the defendant’s expert admitted it should be inspected at least once a year.
MR. NOMBERG: Without giving all the numbers, what in your opinion would be a reasonable time period of how often a bathroom like this should be inspected for general safety?
MR. DESANTIS: Same objection, your Honor.
THE COURT: Sustained. By who?
MR. NOMBERG: By a property owner?
MR. DESANTIS: Objection, your Honor.
THE COURT: Overruled. By a property owner.
MR. DESANTIS: Could we approach on that?
A: A minimum of a year.
The plaintiff had testified before trial that she did not see any water on the area she fell and did not know why she slipped. However, we had taken eyewitness testimony of five witnesses and several of them observed water being tracked inside the bathroom causing water on the stairs and bottom floor.
The defendant argued that there were warning signs, non-skid rubber treads, floor mats, and a handrail at the time of accident. After 7 days of testimony, we demonstrated that none of those safety measures were present at the time of accident but only placed afterwards.
The defendant presented medical records of three different treating physicians who recorded a medical history of long-standing chronic pain in the neck and back. The plaintiff denied making these assertions and we presented the prior treatment records showing no treatment for the neck and back occurring during the 5 years before the accident. After the plaintiff testified, the defendant raised their offer to $500,000, and the plaintiff agreed to accept the offer before a verdict.
If you were injured in an accident, call Brand Brand Nomberg & Rosenbaum, LLP (BBNR) for a free consultation. An experienced personal injury firm on your side can make the difference between winning and losing. There is no fee unless we win.
Date of Settlement: February 4, 2022
Judge: Suzanne J. Adams, J.S.C. (Manhattan)
Plaintiff’s Trial attorney: Brett J. Nomberg, Brand Brand Nomberg & Rosenbaum, LLP, NYC
Defense counsel: Salvatore J. DeSantis, Molod, Spitz & DeSantis, P.C., NYC