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Vargas v City of New York

A Brooklyn jury awarded Mr. Vargas $17.5 million for the City of New York’s violation of his civil rights for failing to provide him medical care while in custody.

Mr. Vargas, a type 1 diabetic, was in police custody for allegedly being involved in a drug transaction. While in custody, he made several requests for insulin, all of which were denied. After over 58 hours without insulin, Mr. Vargas developed diabetic ketoacidosis, causing a seizure that resulted in a coma. Mr. Vargas remained in a coma for eight days, suffering disabling damage to his brain.

The jury found that the police officers involved failed to provide the necessary medical treatment and awarded $17.5 million to Mr. Vargas.

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Ferguson v City of New York 

A Bronx jury awarded $10.5 million to the mother of Malcolm Ferguson, who was wrongfully shot and killed by the New York City Police Department.

Malcolm Ferguson, who was unarmed, was shot point blank in the left temple of his head. The police officer, Louis Rivera, also a defendant in the case, was found to have used excessive force in violation of Malcolm Ferguson’s civil rights as protected under the United States Constitution.
The jury awarded a $3,000,000 for pain and suffering, $7,000,000 for punitive damages and $500,000 for loss of support.

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Martini v City of New York Department of Sanitation 

An average day can turn into chaos in seconds. On February 13th, 2014 the city was covered in snow. The conditions in the streets weren’t the safest, with the snow rising and the temperatures dropping. This was a very hectic day for New Yorkers. Victoria Martini left her house this day to get outside and relieve herself from cabin fever. The temperature was at a frigid 36 degrees, and Victoria Martini decided to go to a movie and dinner.

At around 11 p.m. at Exo Restaurant in Forest Hills, Queens, a snow plow was going through the streets a little faster than usual. A foot of snow had fallen, and it was continuously snowing that day. All of the sudden the snow plow lost control and collided with a garbage can resulting in the garbage going straight into the glass window of Exo Restaurant. There is a video that shows Victoria Peters-Martini sitting right next to the window with a friend and the glass being shattered on and all around Mrs. Martini. She was shocked by what had just happened and was injured by the force of the garbage can and glass. Her friend’s immediate reaction was to chase the driver because he was leaving the scene.

What’s even more shocking about this incident is that the driver was able to get away. He fled the scene without receiving a ticket or being tested for alcohol or drugs. Seth Harris from Burns & Harris believes the driver was being protected by the system because of how the driver wasn’t tested for drugs and alcohol like a normal suspect would be. Victoria Peters-Martini sued the City of New York Department of Sanitation for this trauma and her injuries from the accident.

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Martin v NYPD

A Brooklyn Jury rendered a verdict for $4.15 million in Martin V. NYPD. Mr. Martin was caused to fall over 30 feet while being chased by an anti-crime unit of the 76th precinct. While hanging from a wall, officers hit his hands so that he would fall.

On 8/22/09 Brian Martin, a 25 year old black male, was walking home from the barber shop, on Hoyt St. As he was approaching his building, 225 Hoyt, Brian was asked by two unidentified males to come here. Mr. Martin ignored the request, and was asked again to come here more aggressively. He continued walking and when he glanced back, he saw the two men pointing guns at him. Mr. Martin ran when he saw the guns. He ran into his building of 225 Hoyt. The men were right behind him. He ran up the stairs and to the roof of 225 Hoyt, which is a 4 story building. While on the roof he was pushed/grabbed by one of the two men, and he was propelled over the ledge of the roof. Mr. Martin was able to grab onto the ledge and hung on. While he was holding on for his life, one of the officers hit his right hand with a hard black object. Mr. Martin could not hang on any longer and fell the 5 stories.

As a result of the fall, Brian suffered a fractured back and shattered heel. Brian had a 6 level fusion a few days later. Mr. Martin was arrested and charged with trespassing and reckless endangerment, all of which were later dismissed. In the future Brian will need an extension of his fusion surgery and a fusion of his ankle/heel. The officers involved were PO Bakalis, PO Cofresi, PO Scarlatelli and Sgt Foote.

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Young v NYPD

A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff Juanita Young $1,350,000 for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest.

Ms. Young was arrested and later acquitted for trespassing in her own apartment. During the arrest, Ms. Young, who is legally blind, was handcuffed from behind, with her children watching, and taken to the top of the stairs to exit the building. While Ms. Young was descending the stairs, the police officer shoved Ms. Young in the back, causing her to fall down the stairs. While she was on the ground, the police officer pulled Ms. Young up from the ground by the handcuffs and again pushed her down the stairs, causing Ms. Young to fall for the second time. Ms. Young was eventually taken to the hospital by ambulance. Ms. Young suffered a tear of a muscle in the right wrist that required surgical intervention.

The jury awarded $600,000 for past pain and suffering, $500,000 for future pain and suffering, and $250,000 for excessive imprisonment.

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Cardoza v NYPD

A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff William Cardoza $4 million for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest. Mr. Cardoza was arrested and later acquitted for disorderly conduct, obstructing governmental administration, and resisting arrest.

During the arrest, Mr. Cardoza was pepper-sprayed and hit repeatedly with a police nightstick. As a result, Mr. Cardoza sustained injuries to his hand and finger. In addition, Mr. Cardoza also developed posttraumatic stress disorder, with manifestations that included depression. As a result of the injuries, Mr. Cardoza was forced to take another position because he was unable to complete the necessary tasks of his prior job.

The jury awarded $500,000 for past pain and suffering, $2 million for future pain and suffering, and $1.5 million for punitive damages.

An appeals court issued a final decision that reinstated a $1.8 million jury verdict against New York City and two of its police officers for excessive force that was previously cut to $350,000 by Trial Judge Howard Sherman.

A unanimous panel of the Appellate Division, First Department, reversed Justice Howard Sherman’s determination that no punitive damages should have been awarded against two officers.

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Bryant v NYPD

A Brooklyn jury declared that the NYPD is driven by arrest quotas. The ground breaking decision came in a civil trial brought by Carolyn Bryant, 46, who sued the NYPD for injuries she sustained during a 2006 arrest.

In July of 2006, Carolyn Bryant’s son was being arrested by Operation Impact cops when she stepped outside to see what was happening. She was then assaulted and arrested. Charges of resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration were dismissed against Bryant along with the charges against her son. However, Bryant has suffered from neck and knee pain since the incident.

During the trial Capt. Alex Perez, of the 81st Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant, testified and admitted that arrest numbers are a factor in evaluating an officer’s performance. The jury then found that the NYPD had a “custom and policy” regarding the number of arrests they make that violated Carolyn Bryant’s constitutional rights.

Looking forward, such a decision is groundbreaking. “It’s a binding decision by a jury that nobody’s appealing,” said Bryant’s lawyer, Seth Harris. “Other lawyers can now argue that convincingly that the issue of quotas has been decided.”

Burns & Harris is one of New York’s premier law firms. These lawyers have a long and proud tradition of representing those that have been injured in any way. They are well versed in the Law and have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of injured parties.

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Rosario v NYPD

The City of New York settled the Rosario v. NYPD matter for $1.1 million dollars during trial. On January 12, 1995, Anthony Rosario and Hilton Vega were walking into an apartment building on Grand Avenue in the Bronx. The detectives, Detective Patrick Brosnan and Detective James Crowe, were already inside an apartment in the building investigating a robbery. As Mr. Rosario and Mr. Vega entered the apartment, they were immediately fired upon by the police officers. Numerous bullet fragments were found on the floorboards in the apartment, a clear indication that Mr. Rosario and Mr. Vega were continuously being shot at even while on the ground. Mr. Rosario and Mr. Vega were both shot in the back while face down on the floor. Twenty-eight bullets were inexplicably fired at eighteen year old Anthony Rosario and twenty-one year old Hilton Vega. Mr. Rosario begged for the officers to stop firing their weapons at him. Mr. Rosario was shot fourteen times and Mr. Vega eight times. There was no clear reason why the officers fired. As a result of the bombardment of shots fired, Mr. Rosario and Mr. Vega died on January 12, 1995.

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Doe v BX Hospital

On September 30th, 2000, Jane Doe was treated negligently at a hospital in the Bronx, New York. After initially coming in with a minor ankle break, the careless treatment she was provided with left her with more permanent injuries.

The doctor who treated Ms. Doe failed to prove adequate medical, emergency, and orthopedic care. The doctor also failed to properly diagnose and treat the fractured left ankle injury. Ms. Doe was treated with improper care and this left her seriously injured. During the time of the post fracture period, this doctor ignored signs and symptoms. This doctor’s actions or lack thereof, left Ms. Doe with an incorrectly set ankle.

Jane Doe now walks with a limp and is constantly suffering from severe pain, swelling, and stiffness in her ankle area. Her leg did not heal properly after the surgery, and while she was still under hospital care, her symptoms were not treated. The doctor failed to administer proper procedure and make a proper diagnosis. Ms. Doe was confined to her bed and home from September 30, 2000 to April 1, 2001. She was forced to miss seven and one-half months of work, while also having to worry about a mountain of built up hospital bills.

In her case against the BX hospital, the jury decided a One million dollar settlement would be appropriate. Ms. Doe will endure a lifetime of disability because of this incident and the money she was compensated with will help her with previous and future obstacles.

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Alomar v Khan

Is there some sort of destiny associated with being in the right place at the right time? And if there is, why do some people end up in the wrong place at the wrong time?

On August 12th, 2011, Presbitero Alomar ended up in an unfortunate situation at a hardware store on Liberty Ave. in Brooklyn. Mr. Alomar was in search of a weather stripping, but when he couldn’t find one, he continued to peruse through the store like any normal customer would. Alomar found himself in the back of the store, and before he knew it, his right leg was jammed in a jagged opening on the floor. He started screaming for help, when he realized his foot was approximately three steps down on a stairway leading to the basement. He fell back onto his buttocks, which forced his body down the stairway into the basement.

Evidently, there was nothing around this area of the store warning the customers of the unfinished construction. No warning signs or gate were present to distinguish that the stairway was a dangerous area. As a result of this, Presbitero Alomar incurred many injuries. The store employees were no help to Alomar, so he called 911 and the EMS eventually came. They found him in the dark and immediately rushed him in an ambulance to Brookdale Hospital. X-rays at Brookdale concluded a “possible fx.” and advised that Mr. Alomar follow up with these imaging studies. His right knee was badly injured and because of the unsafe conditions, Presbitero Alomar was rewarded 750,000 in a settlement.

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John Doe v. Clinton Green South and Bovid Lend Lease

A Bronx jury awarded John Doe over $12 million for an accident on a construction site.
Leon G. was working when a piece of scaffold weighing 35 pounds fell, striking Leon G. in the lower back. Leon G. suffered a herniated disc requiring surgical removal of a portion of the disc and permanent nerve damage. Leon G. is unable to return to work and is in constant pain.

The jury found defendants liable for Leon G.’s pain and suffering as well as his lost wages and benefits in the amount of $12,561,772.

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Sampersi v Starbucks Coffee Co.

Ms. Samperisi was awarded $3,470,670 because an espresso machine scalded her while visiting a Starbucks coffee shop.

Burns & Harris’ client, a 33-year-old teacher’s assistant, was scalded by an espresso machine which exploded while the defendant’s employee was demonstrating how the machine worked. The client was a customer at defendant’s coffee shop on the date of the accident, and suffered first-degree burns to her right (dominant) hand, resulting in chronic Stage III reflex sympathetic dystrophy of the right upper extremity.

The jury awarded the client $3,470,670.

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Zuckermandel v Dunkin Donuts 

Burns & Harris Secured a Settlement in a Case Brought Against Dunkin Donuts for Negligence.
Janine Zuckermandel suffered injuries when she bit into a donut purchased at Dunkin Donuts containing a one and a half inch needle. The needle punctured the inside of her mouth.

The lawsuit brought by Burns & Harris on behalf of Ms. Zuckermandel against Dunkin Donuts charged that Dunkin Donuts was negligent in supervising and training its workers and that it failed to protect customers from an unreasonable risk of harm. Burns & Harris secured a settlement for Ms. Zuckermandel during jury selection.

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5 Corrections Officers v Rikers Island

Five Rikers Island correction officers sued the city claiming that they contracted cancer from working at the prison. The officers believe that they were made sick by toxic chemicals buried on Rikers, which is built predominantly on landfill.

One of the officers, Vanessa Parks, was diagnosed with uterine cancer after twenty years of exposure to the toxic chemicals on Rikers. Her and other officers say a strong chemical odor often engulfs Rikers and mysterious smoke rises from the ground. The toxic smell causes vomiting and is thick enough to set off gas detectors on the island. “That place has killed so many of my brothers and sisters,” said Correction Officer Jacqueline Bede, who was diagnosed with colon cancer. According to officers, another person gets sick every few months.

The suit against the city claimed officials knew workers were being exposed to cancer-causing agents. Ingrid Mitchell, whose husband was a guard at Rikers for 20 years, Anthony Mitchell, died of bladder cancer in 2008. She blames Rikers Island for killing him as his cancer was caused by inhaling carcinogens such as the ones present on Rikers.

In 2009, the Health Department investigation found that no evidence of a cancer cluster exists at Rikers. Seth Harris, a lawyer representing the sickened officers, said “their investigation was a joke.” The investigation only focused on the neighborhoods near Rikers Island, rather than on the island itself. Two-thirds of the land at Rikers Island is made of landfill, the contents of which the city has never disclosed. Harris believes we need an honest accounting of what affect the waste has on people’s bodies.

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Rohan Allen v New York City Department of Education 

A 17-year-old student at Evander Childs High School in the Bronx was arrested in the stabbing of a fellow student in a school stairwell.

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Daniel Cozza v McDonald’s

Chicken sandwich bought at the restaurant in Wilton contained a hypodermic needle.

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Ruth Klein v North Shore University Hospital

Chicken sandwich bought at the restaurant in Wilton contained a hypodermic needle.

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