Brooklyn Boro

SKETCHES OF COURT: Jury returns verdict for defendants in premises liability trial

August 18, 2016 By Alba Acevedo Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Court sketch by Alba Acevedo
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In this courtroom sketch, Hon. Debra Silber listens as plaintiff’s attorney Jordan Tucker (standing), trial counsel to the law office of Beth J. Schlossman Esq., conducts a direct examination of an eyewitness in the premises liability trial Joseph Vasile v. Empire Beauty School (EBS), et al. At issue was the determination of liability.

Vasile and a friend were looking for a nearby late-night meal in the early hours of Sunday, Dec. 29, 2010. The city was still digging itself out from an earlier snowstorm of historic proportions. Vasile alleged that he slipped and fell on an icy sidewalk abutting the school at the corner location of 86th Street and 24th Avenue, to which his friend testified. 

Patricia Zincke (third from right), of the law firm Cartafalsa, Slattery, Turpin & Lenoff, represented EBS. Eric Tosca (second from right), of the law office of James J. Toomey, represented premises owner Bauer Properties. According to their arrangement, EBS leased the space from Bauer Properties and had assumed responsibility for maintaining the sidewalk. Time to Sparkle (TTS), a third-party defendant, was represented by Kim Townsend. TTS operated as a commercial office interior cleaning company that was contracted by EBS.

Zincke maintained that her client had taken all reasonable measures to keep the sidewalk clear, and sought to implicate the cleaning company as responsible for snow removal. Townsend successfully argued that his client had fulfilled all their contractual obligations, which ordinarily consisted of daily maintenance, but which also included snow removal upon express notification by the school. The 20-inch snowfall ended an hour before TTS attended to the request of shoveling and clearing a path through the highly trafficked area, which was 40 hours before the time of the accident. 

Judge Silber granted Townsend’s motion to release TTS from the lawsuit. Subsequently the jury returned a verdict for the defendants, finding that the sidewalk had been maintained in a reasonably safe condition. Court reporter Lisa Fragapane-Calvano recorded the proceedings as Court Clerk Mark Levine looked on, in the trial that concluded last week in Kings County Civil Term. 


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