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New York Court Considers Appropriateness of Verdict in Favor of Woman Who Was Injured in Incident at Mall

Tragedy can strike in just a moment. One minute, someone is driving down the road, going in for a routine medical procedure, or even standing in the parking lot of a mall, and the next minute their life is changed forever.

When someone is hurt because of another’s failure to take reasonable care as required by law, the injured individual has a right to seek compensation via a personal injury or negligence lawsuit. While the burden of proof at trial in a Syracuse personal injury case is on the plaintiff, it is quite possible that he or she can be awarded a considerable amount of money in compensation for the injuries suffered due to the defendant’s negligence or carelessness.

Of course, as with any other remedy awarded by a trial court, it is possible that the plaintiff will have to continue the fight in the appellate courts. Defendants may have one or several alleged errors that they believe entitle them to a reversal of the trial court’s entry of judgment on the verdict, a downward adjustment of the verdict, or other relief.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a case appealed from the Supreme Court of New York County was a woman who was severely injured when two 12-year-old boys threw a shopping cart over the railing of a shopping mall and struck the plaintiff, who was standing several floors below. Similar conduct had allegedly taken place at the mall previously, albeit with less tragic results. The plaintiff’s suit named as defendants both the owners of the mall and the mall’s security firm. According to the plaintiff’s view of the case, inadequate security was to blame for the incident.

The case proceeded to trial and resulted in a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The jury apportioned fault at 65% against the mall owners, 25% against the security firm, and 10% against the non-party tortfeasors (the two 12-year-old boys who threw the cart over the railing). The plaintiff was awarded $14.5 million for future pain and suffering, $1.9 million for past and future lost earnings, and $3,175,500 for a home health aide. The plaintiff’s husband, who also joined in the suit, was awarded $2 million for past and future loss of services and society. The defendants appealed, citing as grounds numerous alleged errors during the trial.

The Court’s Decision on Appeal

The New York Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed the lower tribunal’s order in the case. Although the verdict was large, the court pointed out that the plaintiff had almost died due to the incident at issue. A physician who was in the mall when the plaintiff was hurt testified at trial that the plaintiff’s heart had stopped and that she was nonresponsive. Further medical evidence established that the plaintiff continues to suffer from a “very complex brain injury” that has taken away some of her ability to function both physically and mentally. Under these circumstances, the reviewing court found no reason to disturb the lower’s court damages award to the plaintiff (which, the court noted, had already been reduced to some degree by agreement of the parties).

Get Advice About a Syracuse Personal Injury Claim

Shopping centers and malls owe certain duties to those who come upon their property to shop, dine, or transact business. When these duties are breached and someone is hurt, the injured individual may seek monetary compensation via a premises liability lawsuit. To learn more about holding a property owner or business operator liable in such a situation, call the attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP for a free consultation. You can reach us at 833-247-8427 or via the “contact us” section of this website.

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