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SKETCHES OF COURT: Stuck to floor yields large award for plaintiff

November 20, 2018 By Alba Acevedo Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Court sketch by Alba Acevedo
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In this courtroom sketch Hon. Reginald Boddie listens as plaintiff’s attorney Joseph Settipane (standing), of The J. Settipane Law Firm, addresses the jury during opening remarks in the premises liability trial Figueroa v. Kings & Queens Holdings, Urban American Management, Rivera’s Construction, et. al. At issue was the determination of liability. 

Margie Figueroa accompanied a realtor to a vacant rental apartment in February 2013. The agent used a key to access the unit, and let the prospective tenant walk in first. Figueroa, a 72-year-old retiree, promptly slipped and fell on the shiny floors of the unlit apartment. She described being stuck to a viscous coating, which was seeping into her clothing and hardening as she lay seriously injured and immobilized. Figueroa also testified that she had detected a chemical smell before the accident.

Defendant’s attorney Evan Yagerman (center), of the law offices of Smith Mazure, represented the building’s owner and property managers. Yagerman claimed that his clients had hired Rivera’s Construction to renovate the apartment and faulted the subcontractor for failing to place a warning sign of a dangerous condition. 

The subcontractor was represented by defendant’s attorney Charlie Green (at right), of the law offices of Farber Brocks & Zane. Green allowed that his client had renovated the premises but maintained that their work did not include polyurethaning the floors. 

The defendants argued over exhibits that mentioned polyurethane. Yagerman alleged that purchase receipts and a materials list implicated Rivera’s Construction as having been hired to perform the polyurethaning, while Green claimed that a Scope of Work contract and a Substantial Completion of Work inspection form failed to support that contention. 

Green generalized in summations that issues of safety were compromised in favor of dispatching the rental unit as quickly as possible and accused the co-defendants of handing out keys to both contractors and realtors while failing to provide controls on access. 

The jury determined that the building’s representatives were 93 percent at fault and that Figueroa was 7 percent comparatively liable for the accident, for a net award of $564,000 to the plaintiff. The jury failed to find any negligence on the part of the defendant contractor in the trial that resolved in Kings County Civil Term.

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