Bobby Simmons has been around. Born in Texas, he grew up in Oklahoma and moved to New York when he was 20 years old. He was a successful light heavyweight boxer for about six years, then he had all sorts of jobs – among them, shipping clerk, cab driver and construction worker. He retired by the time he was 62 and has seven children and 17 grandchildren, one of whom he was going to visit in the Bronx on March 25, 2003 when he had a trip and fall accident descending a stairway on the way to the subway at the Grand Concourse Station.

Simmons claimed there was a defect in one of the steps that caused him to fall and injure his left knee.

The photograph to the right is the actual staircase where this accident occurred. A clear photograph depicting the actual step can be seen in a trial exhibit, here (above the letters “ML”).

In the ensuing lawsuit, a Bronx jury concluded that the defect was significant and had been there for so long that the city’s transit authority, in maintaining the area, should have known about it and repaired it.

The jury heard testimony from Mr. Simmons (by then, 71 years old), an employee of the defendant and expert orthopedic surgeons for both sides and then awarded plaintiff $500,000 in damages for his pain and suffering ($300,000 past – 9 years, $200,000 future – 12 years).

The verdict, both as to liability and the amount of damages, has now been affirmed in Simmons v. New York City Transit Authority (1st Dept. 2013).

The court’s decision sets forth an excellent summary of the injuries and treatment in this case concerning a ruptured patellar tendon that required open surgery to repair.

Knee With Ruptured Patellar Tendon:

Normal Knee Anatomy

 Here are some additional facts about plaintiff’s injury:

  • After the completion of physical therapy in 2003, plaintiff testified that during the next nine years he underwent no medical treatment at all for his injuries.
  • The surgery plaintiff underwent required about a foot long incision and holes drilled into the patella to reattach it to the tendon with large sutures sewn in and anchored in the patella.
  • A calcified mass was discovered in part of the tendon during surgery that the defense contended indicated that aspects of plaintiff’s knee condition were preexisting; plaintiff’s expert, though, while admitting that the calcification pre-dated the accident and was evidence of degeneration, said that the finding was normal (especially because plaintiff had a similar mass in his other knee).

Inside Information:

  • In plaintiff’s closing argument, the jury was asked to award $360,000 for past pain and suffering plus $120,000 for the future.
  • Defense counsel’s closing argument focused on his contention that there was no negligence (and thus plaintiff had no right to any damages at all) but also alternatively addressed damages stating that any award should be “what’s fair” and “… if the kids are playing ball and the ball goes in the window of the house, you give the homeowner a new window, not a new house.”