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SKETCHES OF COURT: Accident at Funeral Leads to Premises Liability Trial

July 14, 2015 By Alba Acevedo Special to Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Court sketch by Alba Acevedo
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In this courtroom sketch, Hon. Wavny Toussaint listens as plaintiff’s attorney Mark Cipolla (standing), of the law firm Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins PC, makes an opening statement to the jury in the premises liability trial Caputo v. Andrew Torregrossa & Sons, Inc. Court reporter Sylandia Brock (at left) transcribed the proceedings.

The plaintiff, who was then a 44-year-old employee working as a pall bearer at a Brooklyn funeral home, fell down a carpeted flight of stairs while carrying flowers in the June 2011 accident. He landed on his knees, rupturing both quadriceps tendons, and was unable to walk away. He was removed from the scene via ambulance, with the assistance of medical personnel and fellow pall bearers, while the funeral was disrupted. 

At issue in the bifurcated trial was the determination of liability. The defendant, represented by Roy Itzkowitz (seated, right) of the law firm Crisci, Weiser & McCarthy, is the employer as well as the property owner who installed the staircase in a 1970s renovation to the 1940s building. The entity is also a closely held corporation, which the plaintiff felt created a litigation exception to the exclusive remedy of Workers Compensation fixed monetary awards for job-related injuries. 

Also at issue was the question of compliance with building codes regarding the steps. The plaintiff had scheduled the testimony of its expert witness architect’s findings of inconsistent measure and slope in the treads and risers, but it remained to be seen if defendant would dispute the claimed violations in the trial, which was settled last week in Kings County Civil Term. 

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