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Greg Henderson v. City of New York v. Consolidated Edison

Case Name

Greg Henderson v. City of New York v. Consolidated Edison


New York, NY


50,000 for past pain and suffering. In a previous liability trial in September 1996, the City was found 65% liable, and Con Edison was found 35% negligent

Verdict Amount


Case Details


Greg Henderson v. City of New York v. Consolidated Edison 30901/87 23-day trial Verdict 2/26/98 New York Supreme

Judge: Phyllis Gangel-Jacob

Verdict: $50,000 for past pain and suffering. In a previous liability trial in September 1996, the City was found 65% liable, and Con Edison was found 35% negligent. Jury: 2 male, 4 female.

Post-trial motions were denied in a decision dated 10/6/98.

Pltf. Atty: Alan M. Shapey of Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman, Manhattan

Deft. Atty: Gordon D. Miller, Asst. Corp. Counsel, for City of New York

John J. Burke, Manhattan, for Con Edison

Facts: Pltf., age 18 at the time, was a Con Edison laborer who claimed that on the morning of 7/17/86, he was injured while working on an excavation project on Maiden Lane in Manhattan. He claimed that three unidentified City inspectors directed him to drill with a pneumatic drill into a concrete outcropping in the pit. He claimed that when he did so, a 13,500-volt feeder cable shorted out, causing him to receive an electric shock and be thrown backwards. At a liability trial ending in verdict on 9/30/96, the City was found to be 65% liable, and Con Edison was found to be 35% at fault. This case was tried on the issue of damages.

Injuries: paralysis of both legs and the left (nondominant) arm; herniated discs at C5-6; C6-7; C7-T1; T2-3; T4-5; T5-6; T6-7; L2-3; L4-5; limitation of motion in the right arm. Pltf. claimed that he is only able to lift 5 lbs. with his right arm, and contended that he has experienced constant pain in his head, neck, back, and both arms and legs from the date of the accident to present. He appeared at trial in a wheelchair and a neck collar. Testimony indicated that on the date of the accident, Pltf. did not seek emergency room treatment, but went home by subway. The next day, he was examined by Con Edison physicians, and did not return to work for 3 days. Pltf. was declared disabled by Con Edison physicians. He has not worked full time since the accident. He was ordered to perform light duty several times, but claimed that he was unable to work due to his injuries. He was discharged from employment in the summer of 1987. By late 1988, Pltf. claimed that muscular weakness in his legs left him essentially wheelchair-bound.

Pltf. claimed that he received 135 treatments with an osteopath from the time of the accident in 1986 to present. Deft. argued that the osteopath s office notes only had a record of 30 visits during that time period. Pltf. s treating neurologist testified that Pltf. s herniations were the result of both electrical damage and mechanical trauma that caused the onset of a slow-moving process of dying cells, causing others to die, resulting in successive herniated discs with nerve impingement at various levels. MRIs taken in 1997 showed the presence of eight herniated discs.

Deft. argued that Pltf. did not seek neurological treatment until 9 years after the accident, and argued that Pltf. s treating osteopath s earliest note of wheelchair use was in 1996, shortly before the liability trial. Deft. s experts disputed the existence of any herniations, and argued that there was only evidence of one bulging disc. Deft. s examining neurologist testified that Pltf. s reflex was normal, and that despite Pltf. s claim that he has been wheelchair-bound for 8 years, there was no evidence of atrophy in any of his muscles. All of Deft. s experts testified that there was no electrical injury and no evidence of burns anywhere on Pltf. s body. They testified that Pltf. had normal cervical lordosis; normal curvature of the spine; and that a sciatic nerve test was normal. Defts. further contended a Braggard test was negative, a Tinel s sign test was negative, and that Pltf. s knee tap response was normal. Defts. claimed that Pltf. had no evidence of muscle atrophy in either arm or leg, and argued that he was a malingerer who only suffered muscle spasms and sprains.

Deft. City contended that Pltf. s claims of how the accident occurred were inconsistent with the accident report, and argued that no City inspector directed Pltf. to drill in the area that Pltf. indicated. Deft. also contended that Pltf. lost control of the 95-lb. drill. Deft. introduced evidence of an incident in which Pltf. was involved in an altercation in 1982 in which he was kicked in the hip and groin, and exhibited the same symptoms that he claimed resulted from the instant accident. Evidence indicated that Pltf. treated with the same physician after the 1982 incident as he did after the 1986 accident. Demonstrative evidence: photographs of an outdoor as well as two indoor ramps used by Pltf. to get around at his home; Con Ed medical records; emergency room records; medical records from Deft. s treating physicians; enlargements of spinal MRIs. Deft. argued that the photographs showed no marks on the ramps from use, and contended that the ramps were only constructed in 1996. Jury deliberation: 4 hours.

Pltf. Experts: Dr. Leo Parnes, treating osteopath, Brooklyn; Dr. Harold Parnes, neuroradiologist, Jamaica; Dr. R.C. Krishna, neurologist, Brooklyn; Dr. Michael Crane, Con Ed physician, Manhattan; Dr. Jack Yee, Con Edison physician, Manhattan; Dr. Herbert Cohen, orth. surg., Manhattan; Abraham Hyman, P.E., industrial hygienist; Dr. Les Seplaki, Ph.D., economist, Fort Lee, New Jersey; Dr. Edmond Provder, vocational rehabilitation, Manhattan.

Deft. Experts: Dr. Ralph Olson, neurosurgeon, Manhattan; Dr. Michael Baden, pathologist, Manhattan; Dr. Michael Weintraub, neuroradiologist, Briarcliff Manor; Dr. Kevin Smothers, emergency room treatment, Manhattan; Dr. Michael Deck, neuroradiologist, Manhattan; James Pasciuti, vocational rehabilitation, Springfield, New Jersey; J. Keith Nelson, Ph.D., electrical expert, Rensselaer.