On December 12, 2007, Lucille Martorella tripped and fell on a broken sidewalk in front of the property at 150-20 Centerville Street in Ozone Park. She picked herself up and walked around the block to her home where she rested, dazed and in pain.
Within a couple of days the then 64 year old woman started losing the feel and grip of one of her hands and then one of her legs “started dragging as bit.”
Claiming significant and permanent injuries, Ms. Martorella sued the owners of the property. The defendants never properly answered the complaint and plaintiff’s motion for a default judgment of liability was granted on September 8, 2010.
Thereafter, an inquest was held following which, on May 13, 2011, the judge in Queens County issued a decision awarding pain and suffering damages in the sum of $185,000 ($165,000 past – 3 1/2 years, $20,000 future – 17 years).
In Martorella v. 150 Centerville Holding, LLC (2d Dept. 2015) the $185,000 award was affirmed.
Neither the inquest decision nor the appellate court decision gives any indication of the nature of the injuries. Here are the injury details:
- emergency room treatment at Phelps Memorial Hospital Center on 12/24/07 (12 days after the fall) for progressively worsening left leg symptoms impairing her ability to walk and left arm trembling – diagnosed with an intracranial hemorrhage (acute right thalmic bleeding) and a stroke requiring immediate transfer to a tertiary care unit at another hospital
- transferred by ambulance and admitted to Westchester Medical Center on 12/24/07 through 12/30/07 where she was treated with daily transfusions of platelets and IV immunoglobulin therapy
- inpatient rehabilitation treatment for one month at Kendal on Hudson, a continuing care retirement community located on the Phelps campus that also offers skilled nursing care
- about three months of hospital outpatient rehabilitation treatment for left side hemiparesis
- one month in a wheelchair and another using a cane
- as of the inquest date, continuing left side weakness leaving plaintiff unable to walk stairs without great difficulty and unable to use both hands for any activities such as cooking, dressing herself and shopping
- The only testimony at the inquest was from the plaintiff (who was subjected to cross-examination by defense counsel). In addition, she submitted as evidence medical records from the hospitals and doctors.
- Plaintiff had ceased any treatment for her injuries as of the date of the inquest.
- Plaintiff had a pre-existing history of idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP), a disease in which existing platelets are destroyed and not enough are produced. Defense counsel argued on appeal, unsuccessfully, that (a) there was no evidence that plaintiff’s stroke was the result of her fall 12 days earlier and (b) there was nothing to show that plaintiff’s thalmic bleed and stroke were anything but the continuation and progression of her longstanding ITP.