WRSMH Of Counsel Brielle C. Goldfaden Recently Settled a Case at Mediation for $350,000.
Our 73 year old client tripped and fell on a sidewalk outside of the defendants’ home in Brooklyn. A sidewalk flag was slightly raised in comparison to the adjacent flag, which was not visible to our client because it was raining heavily at the time of her accident. Her foot snagged the height differential and she fell forward with her arms outstretched. A Good Samaritan called an ambulance and she was taken to the hospital. There she was diagnosed with a fractured shoulder which healed after a few weeks in a sling. A few months later, an MRI of the shoulder revealed a partially torn rotator cuff in and our client underwent arthroscopic surgery to fix the tear. Although our client had prior back pain, her trip and fall exacerbated her pain and she underwent a procedure to her back wherein a small portion of a protruding disc was removed.
The defendant home-owners argued that they were not responsible for the sidewalk outside their single family home since a law in 2003 exempted one-family home owners from liability. Under the law, sidewalks outside of certain single-family homes were the responsibility of the City of New York, and not that of the homeowners. However, where a single family home is not used "exclusively for residential purposes", like when a business is run from the home, the home owners are responsible for their sidewalks. In this case, the defendants owned a summer camp and during the non-summer months the camp office was run out of the basement of their home. WRSMH first learned this when we sent an investigator to the scene of the accident within a week of our client’s accident and the investigator took a photograph of the front door of the defendants’ home on which hung a sign for the camp. The homeowners made a motion to dismiss the case, claiming they were not responsible for the sidewalk under the 2003 law. We argued they were liable. The Supreme Court agreed with us, that because defendants’ home was not used exclusively for residential purposes, they were responsible for the safe upkeep of their sidewalks and not the City of New York.
The defendants appealed this issue and Brielle proceeded to mediation while the appeal was pending. Despite denying their responsibility for the accident, the defendants agreed to settle the case for $350,000 to compensate the, now 79 year old, plaintiff for her injuries.