$5,850,000 Award for Injuries Sustained in Ceiling Collapse Caused by Water Leak

Court and County
Supreme Court, Bronx County

Plaintiff Description
At the time of the accident, our client was a 44-year-old home health aide. She has been a member of Local 1199 since 2004 but is no longer able to work due to her injuries.

Description of Case
Our client was in the kitchen of her apartment cooking Easter dinner when a large section of ceiling located above the sink collapsed and landed on her head, neck and back. The impact caused her to fall to the floor and rendered her unconscious.

The night before the accident, our client was in her apartment when water began leaking through the kitchen ceiling. She immediately notified the superintendent of the building, who came to the apartment and observed the leaking water.

The superintendent went to the apartment above and determined that the tenant of the apartment was cleaning and had dumped a bucket of water onto the floor, causing the leak. While the superintendent returned to our client's apartment and advised her that he would return the next day to fix the ceiling, he took no action to determine the extent of the damage or if the ceiling was at risk of collapse.

The next day, before the superintendent returned, the ceiling collapsed onto our client.

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Injuries/Damages
Following the accident, our client was taken by ambulance to Montefiore Medical Center with complaints of pain in the head, neck and low back. She was treated and released with instructions to follow up for additional care. Due to the continuation of her pain, she began undergoing conservative care, including physical therapy, injections and the use of pain medications. She continued to work for over one year following the accident.

Due to a progression of her symptoms, our client underwent MRI's to her neck and low back which showed multi-level disc herniations and bulges in both her cervical and lumbar spine. As a result of the failure of conservative care to alleviate her symptoms, Plaintiff underwent a lumbar micro-diskectomy at L5/S1 followed by an anterior cervical diskectomy at C5/6.

Despite these surgical interventions, our client continued to experience pain to the neck and low back, with continued cervical and lumbar radicular symptoms, including radiating pain, numbness and tingling into both the upper and lower extremities. As a result, she underwent an additional surgery, a lumbar decompression and fusion at L5/S1. Following this procedure, while still in the hospital, she suffered irritation to the nerve root at the surgical site, causing extremity pain which required the removal and replacement of the left L5 pedicle screw. She eventually required a cervical laminectomy at C3-C7 due to ongoing radicular pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in her upper extremities.

Since her surgical procedures, our client has continued to experience neck and low back pain with ongoing radicular symptoms to her upper and lower extremities. She continues to receive treatment, including periodic physical therapy and continued pain management.

Settlement Amount
$5,850,000

Handling Attorneys
The case was handled by Partners Jeffrey A. Block and S. Joseph Donahue.