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April 2018

New York Partner Donald Derrico Obtains a Directed Verdict

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani Westchester office managing partner Donald Derrico obtained a directed verdict after an eight-day trial in Queens, New York. The plaintiff, a sales associate at JP Morgan/Chase alleged that she tripped and fell at work as she was exiting a printer room at the bank. The firm's client, the general contractor, was hired by JP Morgan/Chase to renovate the bank which included the installation of a raised floor. The client hired a carpentry subcontractor to perform the work. The client supervised the work which was performed over the weekend while the bank was closed.

The building plans, which were prepared by JP Morgan/Chase’s architect, did not include raising the floor in the printer room which created a three inch step down into the printer room. On Monday, when the plaintiff returned to work she tripped and fell as she was exiting the printer room. The plaintiff alleged that our client violated the NYC Building Code and had been warned by one of the subcontractors that leaving a three inch step without a ramp was dangerous. Further, the plaintiff’s expert testified that the step in question did in fact violate the applicable building codes and the contractor should have built a transition ramp. The plaintiff sustained injuries to both arms and neck which resulted in a two level fusion to her neck and two elbow surgeries. The plaintiff claimed that as a result of her elbow surgeries she developed complex regional pain syndrome and was no longer capable of working.

At trial, Derrico was able to establish that our client as well as the carpentry subcontractor built the raised floor pursuant to the architectural plans and that the plans did not include a ramp into the printer room and/or any work in the printer room.  After eight days of trial the plaintiff rested. Without putting on any witnesses, Derrico moved for a directed verdict. Derrico successfully argued the client followed the building plans and did not owe a duty to the plaintiff. After three and half hours of oral argument the court granted the motion for a directed verdict. The plaintiff demanded $7 million to settle the case. No offer was made.    

Donald G. Derrico



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