Back and Coccyx Injuries from Trip and Fall – Appeals CourtOrders $1,000,000 Reduction of Pain and Suffering VerdictOn January 27, 2003, at about 9:45 a.m., LucilleTuruseta was walking into the rear entrance of anoffice building at 175 Main Street in White Plainswhere she worked as the office manager for acourt reporting firm. As she opened the door, Ms.Turuseta’s right foot became caught in brokencement causing her to fall to the ground.She fell and sustained a fractured coccyx and aherniated disc at L4-5.Fractured coccyx:
Although she tried to return to work on several occasions, Ms.Turuseta claimed she was unable to do so due to unremitting pain.And, within four months, she was determined to have sustained amajor depressive episode.Then, the Social Security Administration determined that, as ofAugust 2003, Ms. Turuseta had become disabled (i.e., unable todo any substantial gainful activity because of her physical and/ormental impairments).In January 2008, a Westchester County jury determined that thebuilding owner and manager were negligent and fully responsiblefor plaintiff’s injuries because broken concrete near the doorsaddle was a dangerous defect that they knew of several monthsearlier and could have repaired for $200.
The same jury then awarded Ms. Tursueta $80,000solely for her futuremedical expenses while awarding her nothing at all for her pain andsuffering.The trial judge agreed with plaintiff that the verdict awarding $80,000appeared to be an impermissible compromise – how could a jury award herfuture medical expenses (the figure corresponded with the amount herdoctors testified would be needed for future coccyx and spinal surgeries)but nothing for pain and suffering? The $80,000 verdict was set aside and anew trial ordered on the issue of damages.Ms. Turuseta testified that the unremitting pain in her back and coccyx wasnot relieved with extensive pain medication, trigger point injections or facetblock injections. She hobbled to the stand with a cane and said she was insubstantial pain even while sitting on a pillow and using pain reliefmedicine.Her doctors testified that she had substantial limitations bending and liftingand that she could not perform even light jobs. SSEP tests demonstratedirritation of the nerve roots in her legs and Ms. Tursueta was diagnosed withlumbar radiculopathy, a chronic pain condition characterized by leg painwith tingling, numbness or weakness that travels from the low back throughthe buttock and down the large sciatic nerve in the back of the leg.
On July 2, 2009, the second jury awarded plaintiff painand suffering damages in the sum of $2,219,229($576,867 past – 6 years, $2,219,229 future – 28 years).Now, in Turuseta v. Wyassup-Laurel Glen Corp. (2dDept. 2012), the appellate court has agreed with thedefendants that the pain and suffering award wasexcessive and ruled that it should be reduced to$1,150,000 ($400,000 past, $750,000 future). Theappellate court also upheld the loss of earnings awardin the sum of about $840,000 and future householdexpenses in the sum of $90,000.Although reduced by slightly more than $1,000,000, theresulting pain and suffering award of $1,150,000nonetheless stands as a very significant sum upheld outof the usually conservative Westchester County fororthopedic injuries that hadn’t required surgery as ofthe trial date.
Inside Information:In seeking to set aside the first verdict, plaintiff’s counselproposed an amount of $1,000,000 for total pain andsuffering – $900,000 for his client’s physical injuries plus$100,000 for her depression. In his summation at thesecond trial, counsel asked the jury to award $1,650,000for pain and suffering (without suggesting a divisionbetween her physical and psychological injuries).At the time of her accident, Ms. Turuseta’s employer washer best friend and testified on her behalf. And thatwoman’s husband was Ms. Turuseta’s attorney in thiscase. In closing arguments, her attorney stated: "I knowthis lady. I like this lady. She was my friend. She is myfriend."X-rays on the date of the accident indicated there was nofracture of the coccyx; it wasn’t until a few days later thatanother x-ray clearly identified the fracture.http://www.newyorkinjurycasesblog.com
POSTED BY ATTORNEY RENE G. GARCIASome of our clients have sufferedthese kinds of injuries due to a seriousaccident or malpractice. The GarciaLaw Firm, P.C. was able to successfullyhandle these types of cases. For a freeconsultation please call us at 1-866-SCAFFOLD or 212-725-1313.