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SKETCHES OF COURT: Jury finds driver liable in pedestrian-city bus accident

November 17, 2015 By Alba Acevedo Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Court sketch by Alba Acevedo
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In this courtroom sketch, Hon. Wavny Toussaint listens as plaintiff’s attorney Conrad Jordan (standing), trial counsel for the law offices of Mark E. Weinberger PC, adjusts demonstrative evidence during a cross-examination in the unified pedestrian-motor vehicle accident trial Vassell v. NYC Transit Authority. Court Clerk Ingrid Dandy is at right. 

Reginald Vassell, 62, was preparing to cross Utica Avenue between Lincoln Place and St. John’s Place early one afternoon in November 2008. He was standing near some parked cars and saw the northbound city bus, which had no passengers at the time, approaching. However, he turned his head when he thought he heard someone calling his name, he testified.

The bus driver, represented by Wayne Glasgow (seated, center), trial counsel to NYC Transit Authority (TA) attorney Wallace Gossett, claims he never saw Vassell, but heard a sound on the right side and stopped. He saw Vassell in the street on the ground, clear of the bus, and radioed the TA.

In the sketch, the witness on the stand is one of the TA investigators who visited the accident scene.

The parties’ testimony differed in details including whether Vassell was holding a cell phone at the time, the suggestion of impaired behavior, or whether the two parked cars near him were SUVs. 

Vassell suffered injuries that included multiple fractures to his left hip, left ankle, left foot and toes. Hardware was placed into his hip and ankle. He eventually underwent a right hip replacement and was scheduled, at the time of the trial, for a left hip replacement. 

The jury deliberated under two hours before returning a verdict of full liability against the defendant. Although the jurors found both parties negligent, they found that only the driver’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the accident. They awarded Vassell total damages in the amount of $2.2 million, including $1.4 million for past pain and suffering and $800,000 for future pain and suffering. 

Court Reporter Sandra Wilkes recorded the proceedings in the trial, which concluded last week in Kings County Civil Term. 

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The Transit Authority, a division of the MTA, is also known as MTA New York City Transit.


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