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ARTICLE ID 158483

$________ - PREMISES LIABILITY - POLICE DETECTIVE SHOOTS SELF IN KNEE WHEN HE FALLS BACK ON DEFECTIVE CHAIR IN POLICE PRECINCT - COMMINUTED FEMUR FRACTURE AND DETACHED POSTERIOR CRUCIATE LIGAMENT - RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY - EXTERNAL FIXATION - ARTHROSCOPY.

Kings County, New York

On January 1, ________, at approximately 7:00 a.m., the plaintiff, Anderson Alexander, 49-years-old, a veteran New York Police Department detective was in the 73rd Precinct in Ocean Hill-Brownsville when he was asked by a fellow detective, Peter Schrammer to hold Schrammer’s 9 mm Smith & Wesson while Schrammer was about to interrogate a suspect. Alexander alleged that when he leaned back in the swivel chair, in which he was sitting, to slide the gun into his waistband, the chair did not support him and he fell back. As he fell back, he tried to grab the arms of the chair at which time the gun accidentally went off and shot him in the knee. Alexander commenced this action against the City, alleging that the chair was defective and not well maintained and that the City should have known of this because there were previous incidents involving the same type of chair in the Precinct. The City argued that Alexander had concocted the story so he would not get in trouble for mishandling the gun properly. The City argued that Alexander should have secured the gun in a gun locker. The City further contended that there was no proof that the chair was defective or that the City was aware that it was defective.

Alexander was a detective with the Brooklyn North Street Crimes Unit, a plainclothes task force. This incident occurred on New Years Eve after Alexander had finished a long shift and had escorted a suspect to the 73rd Precinct. He lodged his suspect and was waiting in the detectives’ squad room when Schrammer asked Alexander to hold Schrammer’s gun while Schrammer interrogated his suspect. Police officers are not permitted to bring a gun into an interrogation room. Alexander contended that because he was not familiar with the chairs in the 73rd Precinct, not his own precinct, he was not aware of the condition of that particular chair.

Alexander maintained that as a veteran police detective he had "taken over a hundred guns off the street," and therefore, was well aware of proper protocol for handling guns. He and Schrammer who testified on behalf of the City testified that it was common practice for police officers to put guns in their waistband. Alexander said that he did so on the date of the incident because he expected Schrammer to retrieve the gun as soon as he finished interrogating his suspect.

Alexander sustained a comminuted fracture of the medial femoral condyle (the tip of the femur) and a detached posterior cruciate ligament. He also underwent an external fixator and subsequent arthroscopy to clean out scar tissue. He also underwent months of physical therapy. Knee replacement surgery has been recommended. He testified that as a result of his injuries, he could no longer play football, baseball and basketball and now requires a cane to walk stairs, that he has trouble walking more than a few blocks and cannot bend down.

As a result of these limitations, he claimed that he could no longer work as a police detective. He retired from the New York Police Department in ________ with a three-quarter pension. At the time of the incident, he was earning more than $________ a year, including overtime. As of the time of the trial, he was working as a court officer in a sedentary position in South Carolina where he earns $________ annually. He testified that prior being shot, he was planning to be a detective until the mandatory retirement age of 63, another 21 years of working. Alexander was divorced with adult children. The City argued that Alexander was not as disabled as he claimed and that his claimed knee injuries were the result of a subsequent motor vehicle accident.

Alexander demanded $________. The City offered $________. After a seven day trial and after deliberating for six hours, the jury returned a unanimous verdict for Alexander and awarded him $________, including $________ for future medical expenses, $________ for past lost earnings, $________ for future lost earnings, $________ for past pain and suffering, $________ for future pain and suffering, $________ for future lost pension, and $________ for future lost pension. The City’s expert rehabilitation physician opined that the plaintiff was highly employable.

The City has appealed the verdict.

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