Fire Escape Fall Leads to 29-Million Dollar Settlement
The New York County Supreme Court awarded $29.3 million to a New York University student who fell from a faulty East Village fire escape in 2008. After a four-week long trial to ascertain damages, Anastasia Klupchak succeeded in her claim against the owner and managing agent of 82 Second Avenue. The complaint alleged that the owner and managing agent were negligent in their failure to update the outdated fire escape.
In 2008, the 22-year-old Klupchak was visiting her friend in the East Village apartment when she stepped out onto a vertical ladder fire escape platform that only had railings on two sides. Ms. Klupchak, who had been drinking, fell approximately 12 feet onto a roof extension. The fall lead to significant injuries including the loss of movement in her legs. Ms. Klupchak sued the building owner and management claiming that the fall was caused by the improper operation and maintenance of the fire escape. The claim rested on the fact that the fire escape was in violation of Multiple Dwelling Law § 53 which outlawed the vertical ladder fire escape that lead to the fall.
The defendants in the action moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the law was inapplicable to the building in question since it only applied to fire escapes built after 1929 and the building at issue was built sometime before 1918. The lower Court ruled in favor of the defendants, and Ms. Klupchak appealed. On appeal, the appellate court recognized that a 1948 amendment to Multiple Dwelling Law §53 was intended to outlaw all vertical ladder fire escapes regardless of what year they were erected. In finding that Multiple Dwelling Law §53 applied to the building, the court found that the management company was liable under the doctrine of negligence per se. The doctrine of negligence per se holds that the defendant’s breach of their standard of care is met if they violate a public duty under a law.
With the management company negligent per se, the Manhattan jury was tasked in determining whether negligence was a substantial factor. The jury found that not only was the management’s negligence a substantial factor, Ms. Klupchak’s actions were also contributorily negligent. The jury found that Ms. Klupchak was 25% responsible for her injuries due to her drinking, but the management company was to pay the rest. The jury found the owner of the apartment to not be liable. The award to Ms. Klupchak was $29.3 million for future medical expenses, home care, and pain and suffering.
If you have been injured as a result of another party’s action or inaction, securing legal representation will assist you in obtaining just recovery. With more than 50 years of experience, the dedicated personal injury attorneys of Levine & Slavit PLLC in New York will work hard to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us at (888) LAW-8088 schedule a consultation today.