Brooklyn Boro

Sketches of Court: $53.5M in damages for construction worker’s paralyzing fall

May 24, 2023 Alba Acevdo
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In this courtroom sketch, Hon. Reginald A. Boddie listens during opening remarks in the damages trial Moonsammy v. 656 Warwick Realty, et. al. Attorney Joseph Donahue (standing), and Jeffrey Block (seated, left), of the law firm Block O’Toole & Murphy, represented the plaintiff.

Alan Moonsammy had a catastrophic accident in August 2018 during a construction project at 656 Warwick St. in Brooklyn. Moonsammy was part of a subcontractor’s crew installing an air condensing unit atop a rooftop bulkhead, when he lost his balance and fell roughly 11 feet onto the roof. Moonsammy underwent emergency thoracic surgery to stabilize his shattered spine, but the spinal cord compression damage resulted in paraplegia. Moonsammy has no sensation or movement in his lower extremities and is confined to a wheelchair.

Defendant attorney Robert Schnapp (second from right), the solo practitioner, represented the project’s general contractor, Mecca Contracting, Inc. Moonsammy’s employer, RK Cooling & Heating System Corp., was hired by general contractor Mecca. RK is a third-party defendant, represented by Michael Rabus (far right), of the law firm Ahmuty, Demers and McManus.  

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Donahue called on expert witnesses to testify in detail as to the life care plan for Moonsammy and the attendant costs. Expert testimony also proposed that, statistically, the plaintiff’s life expectancy is 69 years. Moonsammy is 48 years old at present.

Both defendant attorneys acknowledged the tragic circumstances but implored the jury to consider what would be fair and reasonable compensation. Rabus made note that the plaintiff’s excellent care until the present has averaged approximately $125,000 per year, in contrast to the costs proposed. Justice Boddie explained to the jury that the attorneys subsequently stipulated that costs from the time of the accident until present represented time-delimited reduced negotiated rates.

Court papers detailed the jury’s award to Moonsammy: $15,000,000 for past pain & suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, $1,000,000 for past medical expenses incurred, $7,500,000 for future medical expenses over 28 years, and $30,000,000 over 28 years for future pain & suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, for a total award of $53,500,000 in the trial that resolved in Kings County Supreme Civil Term.

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