On February 24, 2015, Sheila Samlal slipped and fell on ice covering the parking area behind the multi-family house at 290 Graff Avenue in the Bronx where she and her husband were renting the top two floors. Ms. Samlal sustained serious ankle injuries and sued claiming that her landlord was responsible.

290 Graff Avenue, Bronx, NY

The jury returned a verdict finding plaintiff and defendant equally at fault. They awarded plaintiff pain and suffering damages in the sum of $150,000 (past only – four years). Plaintiff moved to set aside the verdict as against the weight of the evidence on the issue of apportionment of liability and inadequate as to damages. The trial judge denied the motion in all respects.

In Samlal v. Ghanbarpour (1st Dept. 2020), the appellate court affirmed the liability split but agreed with plaintiff that the damages award was inadequate – the court ordered that future pain and suffering damages in the sum of $200,000 should be awarded, thus increasing the pain and suffering damages award (before apportionment) to $350,000.

Here are the injury details:

  • bimalleolar ankle fracture with lateral angulation of distal fibular fragment

  • closed reduction and casted on date of accident
  • open reduction internal fixation surgery with insertion of metal plate and screws
  • casted two weeks, boot and crutches for two months
  • physical therapy for one year
  • some loss of range of motion
  • continued daily  pain, difficulty standing for long periods, unable to wear high heels, difficulty with usual chores around house
  • three very visible scars at surgical site

The defense argued that at the time of trial plaintiff was in no distress, walked without a limp and had an  outstanding result with no residual disability.

Inside Information:

  • The landlord testified at her deposition that she gave plaintiff a free parking space in exchange for their help shoveling snow. The landlord died prior to trial.
  • Plaintiff’s husband asserted a loss of consortium claim that was rejected by the jury and the courts. He testified that for the first year after his wife’s accident he did all the things around the house that his wife was unable to do but the trial judge noted, among other things, that there was no concrete testimony as to the time period he undertook the chores, what help he may have provided before the accident or whether he missed any work as a result.