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SKETCHES OF COURT: No admission of fault in workplace disability trial

May 20, 2016 By Alba Acevedo Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Court sketch by Alba Acevedo
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In this courtroom sketch, Hon. Devin Cohen listens as plaintiff’s attorney Joseph Ranni (standing), trial counsel to the law firm Bonacic, Krahulik, Cuddeback, addresses the jury in the employment discrimination trial Braxton v. NY Container TerminalCo-counsel Ronald Gill, of the law firm Fortunato & Fortunato, is seated to Ranni’s left.

At issue in the bifurcated and complicated trial was liability around numerous allegations, which included disability discrimination, retaliation and failure to accommodate a stated disability that was determined by Workers Compensation. 

Sheryl Braxton was a longshorewoman who suffered injury in 2002 while at work. Under Workers Compensation it was determined that, as a result, she was disabled. At a later time, Braxton sought and was granted a modification allowing her to resume her former employment. Supported by a court order that her employer make a reasonable accommodation of her disability, Braxton reported back to work in 2007. The order specifically held that Braxton was not to operate or attempt to operate a “Hi-Lo” forklift. Per the court order, she was to return to work with the accommodation that she operate a “Hustler” truck.  

Braxton, on returning to the work premises and amid some confusion during the course of four days, was assigned to the Hi-Lo. Braxton claimed she suffered acute painful exacerbation of her condition, and left the premises by ambulance.

Her employer is represented by Rodger Doyle (second from left), trial counsel for the law firm Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas. Various testimony on behalf of the defendant alluded to ignorance of the court order prohibiting Braxton from operating the Hi-Lo, the necessity of recertifying before assignment to the Hustler and considerations made in good faith about equipment and location. 

Ultimately, there was no admission of fault, as the case was settled during the trial to the satisfaction of both parties. Court reporter Nancy Silberger (at right) recorded the proceedings. Officer Rich Boles (at left) maintained order.


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