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Jesse Spellman v. New York City Transit Authority

Case Name

Jesse Spellman v. New York City Transit Authority

Type of Injury

BILATERAL ABOVE-THE-KNEE AMPUTATIONS

Occupation

day laborer

Location

Bronx, NY

Verdict

$3,677,007. Breakdown: $2,000,000 for past pain and suffering; $57,007 for past medical expenses; $1,000,000 for future pain and suffering; $500,000 for home aid; $75,000 for home furnishings?

Verdict Amount

$3,677,007.00

Case Details

XIII/8-7 SUBWAY ACCIDENT PASSENGER MUGGED AND THROWN TO TRACKS MOTORMAN FAILS TO STOP TRAIN IN TIME BILATERAL ABOVE-THE-KNEE AMPUTATIONS

Jesse Spellman v. New York City Transit Authority 15678/92 3-week trial Verdict 5/1/95 Judge Bertram Katz, Bronx Supreme

VERDICT: $3,677,007. Breakdown: $2,000,000 for past pain and suffering; $57,007 for past medical expenses; $1,000,000 for future pain and suffering; $500,000 for home aid; $75,000 for home furnishings; $45, 000 for modification of residence. Post-trial motions were denied. Jury: 3 male, 3 female. Notice of Appeal by Deft.

Pltf. Atty: Alan M. Shapey of Harry H. Lipsig & Partners, Manhattan

Deft. Atty: Jeffrey Samel, Manhattan

Facts: Pltf., a 43-year-old day laborer, claimed that on 3/18/91 at 10 PM he was waiting for a train at the 170th St. IRT Number 4 station when he was mugged. Pltf. testified that he was unable to recall the incident, but theorized that he was hit by the train after he was thrown to the track approximately 400 feet from where the train enters the station. Pltf. claimed that the evidence indicated that he entered the station with money, identification, and a black bag, none of which was seen at the location or recovered by the police. There was also evidence that Pltf. sustained a laceration on the back of his head. Pltf. produced medical records indicating that he made a statement that he had been chased and robbed at the station. The motorman testified at his deposition that he saw what looked like a jacket on the tracks, but that he did not attempt to stop the train until he saw the jacket move. Pltf. contended that the motorman had the time and distance to stop the train and that he should have stopped as soon as he saw something on the tracks.

Deft. argued that Pltf. had a high blood alcohol content at the time of the incident, which caused him to fall to the tracks. Pltf. admitted that he had a drinking problem in the past. Deft. produced witnesses who testified that Pltf. still had a drinking problem at the time of the incident. Deft. claimed that Pltf. made several contradictory statements at the hospital as to how the incident occurred, and that in one of his statements he admitted that he had been drinking.

Injuries: bilateral above-the-knee amputation. Pltf. was confined to a wheelchair and requires 12-hour-a-day care. Deft. contended that Pltf. was in a homeless shelter at the time of the incident and did not require as much care as he claimed. Demonstrative evidence: expert’s charts of life care plan for Pltf.; photos of Pltf.’s stumps.

Note: Judge Katz found that Deft. NYCTA failed to disclose photographic evidence, struck Deft.’s answer, and entered judgment on liability. A 50B hearing is pending. No offer; demand: $7,500,000. Jury deliberation: 5 hours. Pltf. Experts: Edmond Provder, vocational rehabilitation, Manhattan; Les Seplaki, economist, New Jersey. Deft. Expert: Dr. Malcolm Reid, rehabilitative medicine, Manhattan.