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March 2018

Gordon & Rees Westchester Partner Allyson Avila Obtains Defense Verdict for Ophthalmologist Client

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani Westchester, New York partner Allyson Avila successfully obtained a defense verdict on behalf of the firm’s client, an ophthalmologist, on February 22, 2018 following a five day jury trial before Judge Carolyn Wade, in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Kings County.

The plaintiff, a catholic school first grade teacher, allegedly sustained a burst fracture to her L1 vertebrae that occurred when she slipped and fell in front of the firm's client’s office on snow and ice. As a result of her injuries, she was unable to return to work. The plaintiff’s settlement demand was $1.2 million. 

The plaintiff alleged that her husband drove her to work in the morning and she wanted to get a cup of coffee before going to work. Her husband pulled over in front of the firm's client’s office and waited in the car as she walked along the sidewalk to get to the coffee shop. The plaintiff alleged – and the weather records showed - that the last snow fall stopped 48 hours before her accident. The plaintiff alleged that the sidewalk should have been cleared pursuant to the New York City Administrative Code which requires snow and ice to be removed within four hours after cessation of a storm. The plaintiff introduced photographs that were taken within an hour of her fall that showed the sidewalk covered with snow and ice and no attempts at clearing the snow seem to have been made. The firm's client was unable to produce proof that any snow removal was done after the storm and before her fall.

Gordon & Rees' attorney argued that the plaintiff never reported the accident until seven months later and the area where she fell seems to have been closer to street (beyond the area that the client was required to clear).  We argued that she failed to call her husband as witness – who is the only party who could corroborate where she fell. Finally, we argued that she was at fault for the accident because she saw the snow and ice and chose to walk on it.

After two hours of deliberating, the jury unanimously found that Gordon & Rees's client was negligent, but that his negligence was not a substantial factor in causing the injury. 

Allyson A. Avila