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SKETCHES OF COURT: City settles unsafe beach ramp case for $600K

March 22, 2017 By Alba Acevedo Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Court sketch by Alba Acevedo
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In this courtroom sketch, Hon. David Vaughan listens as plaintiff’s attorney Alan Ripka (standing), trial counsel to the law office of Matthew J. Salimbene, addresses the jury during opening statements in the premises liability trial Khayutina v. City of New York. Matthew Salimbene is seated at left. 

Bella Khayutina alleges she was walking up a planked Surf Avenue ramp leading to the Riegelmann boardwalk at Coney Island beach in August 2013. When she sidestepped to avoid a bicyclist coming toward her, her foot went into a hole due to the absence of a wooden slat, causing her to lose her balance and fall. The elderly retired home attendant claimed that she sustained serious injury as a result. 

Central to the determination of liability was whether the city had prior written notification of the dangerous condition, as Ripka claimed. The city sought to refute the allegation, maintaining that field inspection reports were not sufficiently specific in identifying the location of the defect. The city was represented by Daniel Luedtke (seated, center), and Joshua Copperman (at right), assistant corporation counsels with the NYC Law Department. 

The jury returned a liability verdict in favor of the plaintiff, finding that the condition of the ramp was not reasonably safe and that the city was negligent and 100 percent at fault for causing the accident. The trial was resolved in Kings County Civil Term after commencement of the damages phase but before closing arguments, with a settlement sum to Khayutina in the amount of $600,000.

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