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ARTICLE ID 189701

$________ – TRANSIT AUTHORITY LIABILITY – FOOT MESSENGER CONTENDS THAT DEFENDANT TRANSIT AUTHORITY FAILED TO MAINTAIN TRAIN STATION, RESULTING IN TRIPPING HAZARD – COMMINUTED FRACTURE OF LEFT HIP REQUIRING SURGICAL OPEN REDUCTION WITH INTERNAL FIXATION – EXTENSIVE PHYSICAL THERAPY – PERMANENT DISABILITY.

New York County, NY

The plaintiff, a 52-year-old foot messenger, contended that the defendant transit authority was negligent in the maintenance of its train station such that there was a defective manhole cover that caused the plaintiff to fall and sustain significant injury. The plaintiff contended that the defendant had constructive notice of the defect. The defendant denied any failure to maintain and contended that the plaintiff was at fault for his own injury.

On the day in question, the plaintiff was descending a staircase in the Chamber Street station. Immediately at the bottom of the staircase was a manhole cover with a raised rim surrounded by cracked tile. The plaintiff tripped over the raised rim of the manhole cover. The plaintiff argued that the defect was of a nature where it would have had to have evolved over long period of time and would have been visible and apparent to the defendant; thus, the defendant had constructive notice. The plaintiff maintained that the defendant’s maintenance staff, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have seen and repaired the defect.

As a result of the fall, the plaintiff sustained a comminuted fracture of the left hip requiring surgical open reduction with internal fixation. The plaintiff underwent extensive physical therapy. The plaintiff was not able to return to work as a foot messenger and was declared permanently disabled from work by the Social Security Administration.

The plaintiff called an expert witness who is a licensed engineer. The plaintiff’s expert testified that the defect was a tripping hazard that had to have evolved over time and that the defendant transit authority should have found it and remedied it. The plaintiff also called an orthopedic surgeon who testified that the plaintiff’s injury was causally related to the fall and that he was permanently injured.

The defendant argued that the defect was de minimis and that there was no notice of the defect. The defendant asserted that the plaintiff must have been running for a train when he tripped and fell, having nothing to do with the defect. The defendant pointed to the fact that it was an unwitnessed fall and thus there was no way to know what caused the plaintiff’s fall. At trial, the defendant called their own maintenance supervisor who testified that the defect was de minimis.The jury found negligence by the defendant and found the defendant ________% responsible for the plaintiff’s injury. The jury awarded $1.4 million in damages including both economic and non-economic damages.

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