Carmine Goncalves, of Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin settled this matter while awaiting trial, after it was referred to the firm as trial counsel.
At the time of the incident, the client, a then 44-year-old African-American woman was aboard a visitor’s bus at Rikers Correctional Center. As the bus passed through a perimeter exit, a malfunction in one of the gates caused it to suddenly close and strike the bus. The client, who was seated towards the rear of the bus, was projected forward with the jolt and caused to strike the back of the seat in front of her. She was removed from the scene by ambulance complaining of striking her head and pain on her left side.
Evidence was uncovered during discovery that the gate in question had experienced mechanical issues in the weeks leading up to the incident. Although there were mechanics specifically assigned to the penitentiary, none were dispatched to repair the condition until after this incident. As a result of the impact, the client suffered herniations in her neck which required surgery to relieve the pressure on her spinal column through the insertion of a metal plate and screws. In addition, she sustained a left shoulder injury that needed to be surgically repaired.
Over the course of several Skype video conferences with the Court, Carmine was able to obtain a settlement of this matter of $1,500,000 by demonstrating the clear liability of the City in failing to address the known mechanical problems with the gate.