On August 15, 2011, Calvin Thomas slipped and fell on the second floor landing of an interior staircase in an apartment building at 383 East 143rd Street in the Bronx. As a result, he sustained a major ankle injury.

383 East 143rd Street

Mr. Thomas, then 51 years old, sued the building owner claiming that his foot slipped on urine and feces and that the owner was liable for his injuries because it failed to maintain a safe premises. The jury agreed to the extent that it found the defendant 67% at fault (while assigning 33% of the fault to plaintiff).

The jury awarded plaintiff pain and suffering damages in the sum of $70,000 (all past – six years). Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the jury’s award was inadequate – both as to  (a) the amount for past pain and suffering and (b) the failure to award anything at all for future pain and suffering.

In Thomas v. New York City Housing Authority (1st Dept. 2020), the appellate court increased the award to $375,000 ($275,000 past, $100,000 future).

Here are the injury details:

  • bimalleolar left ankle fracture with deltoid ligament rupture and a displaced oblique fibula fracture
  • surgery #1 (on 10/12/11): open reduction internal fixation with removal of scar tissue, ligament repair and placement of a six hole metal plate and five screws
  • surgery #2 (on 5/26/14): arthroscopic removal of hardware and scar tissue
  • post-traumatic arthritis
  • occasional use of cane
  • cannot walk long distances or engage in sports

Inside Information:

  • Plaintiff had been visiting his mother at the time of the incident and was walking down the staircase from her apartment on the 10th floor. After he fell, plaintiff hobbled back to her apartment on his right foot. He did not seek medical treatment until three days later when he went to the local emergency room.