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June 2016

Gordon & Rees Westchester Team Obtains Defense Verdict for Wholesale Grocery Client

Gordon & Rees Westchester, New York partner Donald G. Derrico and senior counsel Ryan E. Dempsey successfully obtained a defense verdict on June 17, 2016 following a five day jury trial before Judge Robert A. Onofry in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Orange County.

Plaintiff, Anthony DePalma, a tractor-trailer driver, allegedly sustained injuries that occurred when the landing gear crank handle on a trailer owned by the firm's client purportedly snapped back and struck the plaintiff in the face while he was in the process of connecting his tractor to the trailer. The plaintiff’s alleged injuries included cervical and lumbar herniations, as well as bilateral ulnar neuropathy requiring surgical intervention (ulnar nerve transposition with carpal tunnel release) and post-surgical development of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (RSD).

The Gordon & Rees attorneys were brought in as trial counsel on the eve of trial after the case failed to resolve at mediation. The plaintiff’s settlement demand prior to trial was $2.2 million, and $750,000.00 had been offered at the mediation, which was rejected. After their retention,  the firm's attorneys were able to develop additional facts that proved the plaintiff’s version of how the accident occurred was not possible, while also contradicting the non-party witness’ version of events. At trial, Gordon & Rees attorneys established through fact and expert testimony that the plaintiff was solely responsible for the subject accident by virtue of his failure to adhere to applicable Federal Department of Transportation and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards concerning proper safety procedures, and inappropriate utilization of the landing gear mechanism on the defendant’s trailer, while also demonstrating that the firm's client was not negligent in their ownership, maintenance, inspection and repair of the trailer at issue.

The jury deliberated for approximately 40 minutes before returning a unanimous defense verdict. It is unclear at this stage whether the plaintiff will appeal, and no post-trial motions have been filed to date.

Ryan E. Dempsey
Donald G. Derrico