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SKETCHES OF COURT: Cellar door at issue in premises liability trial

November 21, 2016 By Alba Acevedo Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Court sketch by Alba Acevedo
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In this courtroom sketch Hon. Loren Baily-Schiffman listens as plaintiff’s attorney Ernest N. Reece (standing), trial counsel to the law firm Cherny & Podolsky, addresses the jury during summations in the premises liability trial Aguilar v. Pressmark Corp. 

Dolores Aguilar walked into a Boerum Hill bodega at 139 Third Ave. to buy milk in Nov. of 2012, but exited in an ambulance. The elderly Aguilar claimed that she was seriously injured when she fell through a trap door and rolled down a flight of cellar steps. At issue was the determination of liability.

Reece sought to prove that Pressmark Corp. was negligent in its duty of care. Reece alleged that the accident was caused by a defective door in the shopping floor that had been screwed shut after a prior similar incident, and which gave way when Aguilar stepped on it. Aguilar testified with the help of a Spanish language interpreter that she “sank” through the floor. 

Stewart Greenspan (at left) of the law firm Rubin Fiorella & Friedman represented Pressmark Corp. He resolutely maintained that Aguilar fell through an open door — which would consequently shunt the blame for the cause of the accident away from a defective standing condition and the purview of the absentee landlord Pressmark — onto a temporary condition created by then-tenant Juanma Mini Market Corp. 

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The jury deliberated briefly before returning a verdict for the defendant, deciding that the interior cellar door was open at the time of the accident. Juanma Mini Market Corp. had earlier been deemed negligent as a matter of law when they defaulted by failing to answer the summons and complaint. 

Court reporter Danielle Kurowski recorded the proceedings in the trial that concluded last week in Kings County Civil Term. 


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