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Block O’Toole & Murphy takes pride in their results. Of greater importance, they relish the opportunity to have a meaningful impact on a family when that family needs it most. Lawyers can usually only achieve tremendous results in a courtroom when they care — care about their work and their clients. Below is an example of what can happen when gifted and experienced lawyers dedicate themselves to their craft and focus on helping a family in need.


On the evening of March 11, 2007, Plaintiff was driving home to his family never imagining that his life would never again be the same. As he was traveling on Route 6 in the Town of Somers, New York, Plaintiff’s vehicle and another vehicle encountered an icing condition on the roadway, resulting in a head on collision that demolished both vehicles. Since the accident, Plaintiff, an extremely active 32 year old IT prodigy, has seen his life irreparably altered. An ensuing lawsuit against the State of New York revealed that state officials were well aware of this icing condition and similar prior accidents on Route 6 but that this hazard was allowed to persist with no attempt by the state to rectify this life threatening condition. In fact, state officials failed to use any signs or otherwise warn drivers of the stretch of black ice that frequently formed on this roadway. Over the past five years since this accident, Plaintiff’s life devolved into a never ending cycle of pain filled with emergency hospitalizations that turn into weeks and nearly thirty surgeries aimed at saving his left arm which was crushed in the impact. Despite the heroic efforts of a team of surgeons at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, New York, Plaintiff has virtually no function in his dominant arm and he is left with a lifelong chronic pain condition from which there is no escape.

This matter proceeded to trial in the New York State Court of Claims, where numerous Department of Transportation (DOT) personnel and engineering experts testified regarding the construction and maintenance of this roadway. In his decision, Judge Mignano opined that the State was solely responsible for the happening of this accident in failing to maintain the roadway in a safe condition. Moreover, there was “overwhelming proof that this area of Route 6 was subject to recurrent hazardous icing in late February-early March 2007 resulting from a disruption of the highway’s normal drainage.” The DOT was aware of the problem and had determined this area needed “babysitting.” A DOT highway maintenance supervisor who responded to the scene after the accident admitted to seeing at least 100 yards of black ice which he agreed was “as dangerous a condition as you can get on a roadway.” Further, DOT personnel admitted that there was a problem on this stretch of roadway for weeks preceding this March 11, 2007 accident. Despite the admission of DOT witnesses that this area needed “babysitting”, this area was only addressed during the week days with some minimal ditching work as well as salting and sanding measures. This accident occurred on a Sunday night, when the DOT admittedly failed to “babysit” the roadway.

Justice Mignano heard evidence of Plaintiff’s medical expenses, loss in earning ability, and his pain and suffering. Besides the loss of function in his dominant arm, Plaintiff suffered from life threatening infections while in the hospital, which required tremendous amounts of antibiotic treatment. Plaintiff also developed secondary injuries to his stomach and rectum requiring surgical intervention. In his decision filed on July 27, 2012, Justice Mignano awarded Plaintiff and his wife a total of $20,181,484 to compensate their family for their economic loss as well as their extreme pain and suffering. This decision is reportedly the second largest amount awarded by the New York State Court of Claims. “The family hopes this decision will ensure that this dangerous problem is rectified so no family has to endure something like this again. They are just wonderful, kind people and we are happy that they can now move forward with their lives,” said lead attorney Daniel O’Toole of Block O’Toole & Murphy, LLP.

The Plaintiff was a very active individual before the accident and can no longer enjoy many of his prior passions in life. One of his greatest passions prior to the accident had been his career as a cutting edge information technology executive. Prior to the accident, Plaintiff often worked 14 hours a day and once had ambitions of advancing to Chief Technical Officer of his company.

* Plaintiffs were represented at trial by Partner Daniel P. O’Toole and Associate Robyn Brazzil. See the Newsday article here.

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