On December 20, 2008 Anthony Waring was employed as a housekeeper at Sunrise Assisted Living in Yonkers.
It had snowed the night before and Mr. Waring’s first order of business that morning was to shovel snow off the outside walkways. To do that, he had to get a shovel from the newly constructed outdoor shed in the back of the property. After doing so, he slipped and fell on the shed’s downward sloping exterior ramp.
As a result of his fall, Mr. Waring, then 22 years old, sustained a back injury that prevented him from returning to his job and he sued the property owner claiming that he fell because the ramp was three times as steep as that permitted under the building code and the it lacked handrails as required by the code.
In the Bronx County lawsuit (venue was based upon Mr. Waring’s residence), the jury returned a verdict finding the defendant fully at fault and awarding plaintiff pain and suffering damages in the sum of $600,000 ($100,000 past – four years, $500,000 future – 31 years).
In Waring v. Sunrise Yonkers SL, LLC (1st Dept. 2015), both the liability and damages verdicts have been affirmed.
As set forth in the appellate court decision, plaintiff sustained two bulging cervical discs and three lumbar herniations with impingement, can perform only sedentary work and will require surgery and/or a spinal cord simulator and continuing pain management.
Here are additional injury details:
- herniated discs at L3-4, L4-5 and L5-S1 impinging upon nerve roots with nerve damage and radiculopathy at L4-5 confirmed by an EMG
- three epidural steroid injections
- three months of physical therapy
- permanently disabled from engaging in heavy labor
- unable to play with his two young sons
- permanent, chronic back pain whether sitting, lying down or walking short distances
- doctor’s orders to refrain from lifting anything heavier than 15 pounds, twisting, bending, kneeling and sitting or standing for more than 15 minutes at a time
- future surgery required – laminectomy discectomy and spinal fusion
In addition to pain and suffering damages, the jury also awarded plaintiff:
- lost wages in the sum of $480,000 ($80,000 past, $400,000 future) and
- medical expenses in the sum of $750,000 ($250,000 past, $500,000 future).
After the verdict, the trial judge issued a decision reducing (a) the future lost wages award to $200,000 in view of plaintiff’s age and his conceded ability to engage in sedentary labor and (b) the future medical expense award to $65,000 ( the cost of the spinal cord stimulator).
- While the court decision mentions that bulging cervical discs were among plaintiff’s injuries, by the time of trial plaintiff’s neck pain had improved to the point that his attorney told the jury they “are not asking for any monies with regard to his neck.”
- Plaintiff had been employed at defendant’s facility only three months or so before this incident and he’d fallen once before on the job when it had rained and the ramp was slippery. That time, he hurt his wrist but continued to work.
- Defense counsel was repeatedly admonished by the trial judge for injecting hearsay statements into her questions and making legal arguments before the jury. At one point, the judge told the jury that her actions were improper and that she “should know better and has not been following the court’s instructions.”