Georgette Victor, an active, vibrant 72 year old woman, had a full day on October 21, 2008. She escorted a friend to Kennedy Airport and then went to Manhattan to do some shopping. After that, she headed home to Queens, boarding the #7 subway train at Times Square. When she heard the conductor say the train was an express instead of a local, Ms. Victor got up from her seat and started to leave the train. The subway doors closed on her, though, and she was knocked to the ground sustaining serious injuries.

An ensuing lawsuit against the transit authority resulted in a finding that the conductor was liable for closing the doors too quickly.

Defendant contended that plaintiff recklessly tried to dash out and squeeze through the closing doors.

Ms. Victor was able to get up but quickly realized she was in great pain – she had sustained a non-displaced intertrochanteric hip fracture and was taken to the hospital by her son who was called to the scene.

The Manhattan jury awarded plaintiff pain and suffering damages in the sum of $850,000 ($400,000 past – three years, $450,000 future – six years). Both the liability finding and the damages awards have now been affirmed in Victor v. New York City Transit Authority (1st Dept. 2013).

As set forth in the decision, Ms. Victor suffered a fractured hip requiring surgery and, as a result, her lifestyle was changed as she was no longer able to travel regularly into Manhattan to visit museums and attend cultural lectures.

Here are additional injury details:

  • open reduction internal fixation surgery with screws and a steel intramedullary rod
  • six days hospitalization followed by two weeks at a nursing home for rehabilitation, one month of physical therapy at home and a few months as an outpatient
  • within three months of the accident, plaintiff was able to resume use of mass transit; according to her surgeon, she made a “very good or excellent recovery”

Inside Information:

  • Ms. Victor appeared at the trial in a wheelchair due to an unrelated stroke she sustained two years after her subway accident. The stroke caused her death on July 23, 2012. The future damages award ($450,000), intended by the jurors to cover a period of six years, will be recalculated pursuant to CPLR 5045.
  • Only one medical witness testified at trial – treating orthopedic surgeon, Edward Cleeman, M.D.
  • Since 2001, plaintiff had suffered from a series of spinal compression fractures. She also suffered from scoliosis. In the year after her accident and before her stroke, she suffered falls, fracturing her foot and her shoulder.
  • Plaintiff’s pre-trial settlement demand was $125,000; her attorney asked the jury to award $400,000 for pain and suffering damages, less than one-half of the amount actually awarded.