Feb 27th, 2013

FKB’s Andrew R. Jones obtains a unanimous defense verdict after a two-week trial in a Queens County general liability action.

Furman Kornfeld & Brennan LLP’s Andrew R. Jones obtained a unanimous defense verdict in a general liability (alleged trip-and-fall) action following a two-week jury trial in Queens County Supreme Court before Justice Howard. G. Lane. The trial involved claims that the defendant – a community gym and karate center located in Queens County, New York City – was improperly maintained such that one of its exercise machines constituted a “camouflaged trip hazard.” Plaintiff allegedly tripped and fell on said machine breaking her arm in two places, causing the bone(s) to pierce and break through her skin, causing post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, and a loss of income as plaintiff was allegedly a musician who claimed to no longer be able to play guitar and keyboards. Plaintiff underwent two (2) surgeries and alleged she may require a third in the future and has a metal plate and 6 screws permanently affixed in her arm. She claimed significantly reduced range of motion and permanent and ongoing pain and suffering. Plaintiff sought two million, five hundred thousand dollars ($2,500,000.00) in damages and retained a professional engineer, physician, and psychiatrist to testify on her behalf.

FKB was retained following the completion of discovery, on the “eve of trial,” in order to help “minimize the loss” and “do damage control.” Andrew R. Jones, assisted by associates Florence N. Lishansky and Sarah R. Levin, pieced together the file, met with witnesses, and prepared a defense which not only “minimized the loss”, but eliminated it, resulting in $0 being awarded. The gym’s defense was grounded in credibility, honesty, and integrity – pointing out that the gym’s Ownership and Management was well organized and took good care of the premises and the gym patrons. Despite having no eyewitnesses or camera footage of the incident, through cross examination FKB was able to demonstrate that the plaintiff was simply not looking where she was going and that the accident was not the fault of the gym or its employees. Through cross examination of the plaintiff’s expert engineer, FKB was able to obtain sufficient testimony to allow the jury to conclude plaintiff’s claim was without basis and that the gym had not violated any statutes or ordinances in its layout or design. FKB retained a sports and recreation expert who testified that the gym was in full compliance with industry standards.

FKB argued in summations that the gym acted properly at all times and that the plaintiff’s failure to pay attention was the proximate cause of her injuries. Following careful deliberation spanning 7 hours, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict, with all 6 jurors agreeing that there was no “unsafe condition” on the defendant’s premises and thus needing to go no further than question #1 of the jury verdict sheet.

As with any case, the preparation of an effective and efficient defense also involved the hard work and dedication of FKB’s support staff, including secretaries and paralegals, and FKB would like to acknowledge their considerable efforts in helping to obtain this favorable result for our client.

Andrew R. Jones bio / email      Florence N. Lishansky bio / email