Antonia Cruz v. Alhambra Day Treatment Center
Type of Injury
$5,412,500 (6/0). Breakdown: $1,250,000 for past pain and suffering; $4,162,500 for future pain and suffering (40 years).
XVIII/6-18 ASSAULT VISITOR STRUCK BY MENTALLY DISABLED PATIENT AT FACILITY FAILURE TO TAKE PROPER SECURITY MEASURES BRAIN INJURY LUMBAR RADICULOPATHY
Antonia Cruz v. Alhambra Day Treatment Center 6365/97 4- day liability trial Verdict 4/00 6-day damages trial Verdict 6/29/00 Kings Civil
Judge: Debra Silber
Verdict: $5,412,500 (6/0). Breakdown: $1,250,000 for past pain and suffering; $4,162,500 for future pain and suffering (40 years). Jury: 5 male, 1 female. A post-trial motion is pending.
Pltf. Atty: William Pagan of William Pagan & Associates, P.C., Manhattan
Deft. Atty: Jozef K. Goscilo of Murphy & Higgins, L.L.P., Manhattan
Facts: On 11/10/88, the 29-year-old Pltf. was in the lobby of 1129 Catherine St. in Brooklyn, where she had come to complete a job application. Deft. s treatment center occupied the first floor of the building. Pltf. was waiting for the elevator when a mentally handicapped female patient of the facility assaulted her, pulling her by the hair and causing her to fall backwards onto the ground. At the time of the assault, Deft. s employee was escorting the patient to the lobby restroom. Deft. did not permit its patients to use the facility s restroom.
The patient had a history of assaulting other patients, as well as Deft. employees. At trial, Pltf. subpoenaed the employee who had been present during the assault. The employee testified that she was not trained to supervise violent patients, and had been told only to call for help in the event of a violent act by a patient. There were no security guards in the lobby. The claims against the owner of the building were dismissed during trial. Deft. contended that it acted reasonably under the circumstances, and that it was constrained by the laws of the State of New York in the way that it supervised its patients. Note: Subsequent to the liability verdict, each juror volunteered to return for the damages trial.
Injuries: traumatic brain injury; lumbar radiculopathy at L5-S1 confirmed by EMG; possible fractures at L-5 and S-3; post-traumatic stress disorder. Pltf. was admitted to Harlem Hospital on two separate occasions for treatment, and treated at the psychiatric outpatient clinic there for approximately 10 years, during which time she was medicated with anti-psychotic drugs. She claimed that she underwent a tubal ligation because she could not bear the pain of another pregnancy. Pltf. presently takes Percocet for pain and continues to receive treatment at Harlem Hospital. Her experts testified that she was left totally disabled and could not return to work. Deft. contended that Pltf. was malingering. Deft. s expert vocational rehabilitation expert testified that Pltf. could hold other positions, such as cashier. Note: The jury was told that Pltf. receives disability from the Social Security Administration, but was not told that she was found totally disabled by SSI. Demonstrative evidence: photographs of Pltf. prior to the accident; anatomical model of the back.
Pltf. Experts: Dr. Joseph Waltz, neurosurgeon, Bronx; Dr. Edmond Provder, vocational rehabilitation, Manhattan; Dr. Thomas Abraham, physical medicine and rehabilitation, Westwood, New Jersey.
Deft. Experts: Dr. Ralph Olson, neurosurgeon, Manhattan; Dr. Irving Etkind, orth. surg., Manhattan; Dr. James I. Hannon, psychiatrist, Manhattan; Dr. James Pascuiti, vocational rehabilitation, Springfield, New Jersey.