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SKETCHES OF COURT: Unified trip-and-fall trial resolved in $200K settlement

May 23, 2018 By Alba Acevedo Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Court sketch by Alba Acevedo

In this courtroom sketch, Hon. Edgar Walker listens as plaintiff’s attorney Bret Myerson (standing), of the law firm Harmon Linder & Rogowsky, questions his witness in the unified trip-and-fall trial Montesdeoca v. City of New York. Andrea Kinloch, of the Big Apple Pothole and Sidewalk Protection Committee, is on the stand.

In May 2013 Benigno Montesdeoca was out late on a Friday night, celebrating a coworker’s last day. Montesdeoca testified that after a few hours’ recuperative sleep, he was walking to meet his brother for an early lift back to his job. Montesdeoca had intended to catch up on a backlog of office work in his capacity overseeing stock transactions.

Montesdeoca alleged that when he stepped onto the curb after crossing the intersection of Graham and Johnson Avenues at about 5 a.m. Saturday, his right foot wedged itself into a deep unfilled area between the metal edge of the curb and the abutting sidewalk. Montesdeoca lost his balance and toppled over, but his right foot failed to move with him and essentially snapped at the ankle.

Big Apple, which is closely allied to the New York State Trial Lawyers Association of plaintiff attorneys, had submitted a map of the area 10 years before the accident for the purpose of putting the city on notice of sidewalk defects. Attorney Michael Dolgow of the NYC Law Department maintained that it was unrealistic and unreliable for the city to respond to every defect indicated on a Big Apple map, as the millions of defects Kinloch attested to are not described in terms of size or severity. Dolgow further alleged that Montesdeoca contributed substantially to his own accident.

The jury was shown evidentiary photos of the condition of the sidewalk, and a graphic photo taken by emergency room doctors of Montesdeoca’s injury. Montesdeoca’s ankle bone was visibly protruding through his skin.

The parties came to a $200,000 settlement after Montesdeoca’s and Kinloch’s testimony, during the trial in King’s County Civil Term. Court Reporter Scott Isaacs recorded the proceedings.

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