Bath Beach

Sketches of Court: Bath Beach plaintiff faults store owner in trip-and-fall accident

July 18, 2019 By Alba Acevedo
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In this courtroom sketch, Hon. Ingrid Joseph listened as defendant’s attorney Michael Stonberg (standing), of the law offices of Stonberg Moran, addressed the jury during his summations in a trip-and-fall trial Gamil v. 2002 Cropsey Associates LLC. Aly Gamil, a retired chef, claimed that he was seriously injured in July 2016 when he tripped over a sidewalk cellar door.

At issue was the determination of liability. Gamil faulted the defendants for an allegedly hazardous condition, in which the door was not flush with the surrounding street surface. Gamil was represented by William Ryan (seated) of the law offices of Lurie, Ilchert, MacDonnell & Ryan. (Court reporter Dianne Adkins-Forte is at left.)

Ryan called on an expert witness engineer who maintained that the door and hardware should have been replaced if they were, as he claimed, more than an inch above the sidewalk surface. Additionally, Ryan cited a prior incident in 2011 with a similar allegation. Ryan further accused the defendant of a “ham-handed attempt” to cover up known defects with cement, two weeks after Gamil’s accident.

Stonberg claimed that there were no defects and no evidence that the cellar door was not flush with the sidewalk, and sought to impugn the expert’s findings when the expert failed to produce supporting photographs as to the height differential. Stonberg further maintained that Gamil contributed to his own accident by failing to pay attention to where he was walking, noting that the incident happened near Gamil’s home, and a few paces from a store he had visited numerous times.

The jury charges included determining whether the defendant created or knew of the uneven sidewalk condition, or had sufficient time to take suitable precautions. The jury returned a plaintiff’s verdict, finding the defendant 100 percent liable for the accident. The trial is scheduled to continue, moving on to the damages phase, later this month in Kings County Civil Term.

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