On September 15, 2009, Adelina Reyes was injured when she tripped and fell due to a defective subway grating on the sidewalk at 138th Street near Willis Avenue in the Bronx.
The transit authority conceded liability and a lawsuit by the 53 year old Ms. Reyes addressed only the issue of damages.
On September 27, 2013, after eight days of trial, a Bronx jury returned a verdict for plaintiff’s pain and suffering in the sum of $1,000,000 ($250,000 past – four years, $750,000 future – 29 years).
The defendant appealed on the sole issue of excessiveness of the future damages.
In Reyes v. New York City Transit Authority (1st Dept. 2015), the award has been affirmed.
As set forth in the court’s decision, plaintiff sustained a torn meniscus that required arthroscopic surgery.
Here are more injury details:
- transported from the scene by ambulance to the local hospital where a 10 centimeter laceration was debrided and closed with 15 staples
- physical therapy three times a week for two years
- arthroscopic surgery on 2/17/12: partial medial menisectomy (removal of part of the meniscus) and patella chondroplasty (removal of cartilage)
- development of post-traumatic arthritis with Grade IV chondromalacia of the head of the femur
- continuing pain and inability to return to work as a street cart vendor
- antalgic gait requiring use of cane
- need for total knee replacement surgery in about eight years
Ms. Reyes also sustained three bulging lumbar discs but she did not testify as to any continuing back pain. The defendant argued that this aspect of her injury was merely a lumbar strain that had resolved.
- In closing arguments, plaintiff’s attorney asked the jury for $250,000 for past pain and suffering plus $400,000 for the future.
- Plaintiff admitted that her Facebook page contained a photograph of her standing in high heels without a cane, taken about 15 months before trial at a party for her daughter.
- The jury awarded nothing for future medical expenses despite testimony that the future knee replacement surgery would cost about $50,000. Defendant argued on appeal that this meant that the jury did not believe plaintiff would undergo the surgery and that, therefore, the future pain and suffering award was excessive.
- Plaintiff made no claim for loss of earnings.