Trial: Verdict in Queens County Supreme Court

The law firm of Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. PC was retained to defend against an alleged slip-and-fall incident that supposedly took place in 2015.

Facts: The firm’s client was a shoe-cobbler who scrimped and saved his money to buy a two-family house in Queens nearly twenty (20) years ago. Firm’s client and his brother-in-law lived in the home until about 2014, with his brother-in-law living on the second floor with his family and the client living on the first floor with his family. In about 2014, they both decided to move and rent out the Queens two-family home to tenants. Tenants were found and less than a year later, in 2015, client received a Summons and Complaint alleging that a woman had slipped and fell on ice and/or snow in front of the home in February, 2015. Client notified client’s insurance carrier who disclaimed coverage claiming that insurance company didn’t know that the home was tenanted and was told it was owner occupied. Insurance companies will do whatever they can to avoid protecting their insureds.

At trial, plaintiff testified about the alleged slip-and-fall but presented no witnesses and no documents to support her claim. The trial was bifurcated, with liability being decided first. The jury determined that client homeowner was liable to plaintiff for the slip-and-fall. Damages portion of trial was next. Plaintiff’s counsel called a non-treating orthopedic surgeon to testify about plaintiff’s injuries. Despite the treating doctor’s report that the surgery was “excellent,” the non-treating “hired-gun” doctor testified that although the left shoulder arthroscopy was performed in an “excellent” manner, that did not mean that the result was excellent and the plaintiff still suffered with pain 8 years later; she could not return to work and her life was essentially ruined.

Closing arguments: I told the jury that if they awarded a verdict it had to be reasonable. I explained that a new car costs between $35k-$40k and no one pays that with cash, they have to finance that new car. Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to return a verdict in the amount of $700,000.00 for past pain and suffering and $700,000.00 future pain and suffering. Plaintiff’s counsel claimed that the plaintiff’s life was ruined, she could not work because of the pain in her left shoulder and while plaintiff had come to the United States to provide for and support her family, she had now become a burden on her family.

Verdict: After deliberating for about 2 hours and 20 minutes, the jury returned a verdict of $60,000 for past pain and suffering and $15,000 for future pain and suffering, for a total verdict of $75,000. Given the injury and need for surgery, along with the jury deciding liability against my property owner, a larger six-figure verdict was very possible.

The law firm of Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. continues to try personal injury cases to jury verdict in the State and Federal Courthouses throughout New York and New Jersey.