On July 29, 2011, Janet Kopolovitch was helping her son move out of his apartment when she slipped and fell on a wet cement floor of the loading dock at 200 Water Street in Manhattan.
In her ensuing lawsuit against the owner and managing agent of the building, Ms. Kopolovitch, then 53 years old, claimed that defendants were negligent because an employee had minutes before the accident mopped the floor and left it dangerously wet without any warning signs. Defendants argued that plaintiff fell because she was not looking down at the floor and, furthermore, there were warning signs in the area, plaintiff should not have been there as it was an employee-only area and her Croc shoes contributed to her fall.
The jury substantially agreed with the defense and apportioned fault for the accident only 10% to them and 90% to plaintiff. The jury then assessed pain and suffering damages in the sum of $100,000 (all past – seven and a half years).
In Kopolovitch v. 200 Water SPE LLC (1st Dept. 2021), the appellate court affirmed both the liability and damages verdicts.
Here are the injury claims and details:
- Plaintiff was taken by ambulance to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a ruptured detached hamstring muscle in her right leg, treated with painkillers and released to home
- Physical therapy for seven months
- Right knee pain which developed during physical therapy in 2012 leading to diagnosis of torn meniscus, arthroscopic medial menisectomy in 2014 and partial knee replacement surgery in 2015
- Continuing pain, need for daily anti-inflammatories and knee brace
Plaintiff’s expert orthopedic surgeon testified that while her hamstring ultimately healed, she had scarring and fibrosis which affected her gait causing complications including arthritis in her knee, the need for both of her knee surgeries and the likelihood of a future total knee replacement surgery.
Defendants noted that plaintiff’s hamstring had healed before trial, she had complaints of pain in her right knee as far back as 2002 and she fell in May 2014 when her knee buckled while working as a limousine driver. The defendants’ orthopedic expert testified that plaintiff had preexisting arthritis in her knee and that neither knee surgery was related to her 2011 slip and fall accident.
- In his summation, plaintiff’s attorney asked the jury to award $890,000 for past pain and suffering damages plus $2,640,000 for the future.
- Plaintiff took a vacation to Costa Rica and Panama in 2017 and posted on Facebook about “dancing the nights away” and walking 10 miles a day. At trial, she denied walking 10 miles a day.