Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf is a New York Plaintiff's personal injury law firm specializing in automobile accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, products liability, police misconduct and all types of New York personal injury litigation.

Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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1200px-Harlem_condemned_buildingTwo people were recently killed by falling debris in New York. In January a woman was killed in Queens after a piece of plywood detached from a building (see previous blog). A month before another woman was killed in Midtown after debris from a building under construction fell on her (see previous post).

Months before the accident occurred, the department of buildings issued a class one violation to the building owner notifying him that some pieces of terra-cota were damaged and were causing a risk to pedestrians. The building fought the violation and its lawyer told the DOB that the facade didn’t pose an immediate danger to pedestrians. “The photos and the allegations, even taken together, do not substantiate the claim that there’s any kind of a falling hazard,”  he said to the DOB. The DOB agreed to downgrade the violation but still required that the building owner repair the facade. A permit to put up a sidewalk shed and repair the facade was issued to the building owner but month later nothing had been done and as a result someone died (see article in Wall Street Journal).

In other cases, sheds and protection are installed, but the owner doesn’t effectuate any repairs and ignore the fines received by the DOB. In 2001 the owner of a building in the Bronx was required by the DOB to immediately close a children’s playground that was compromised by a crumbling facade. The owner closed the playground but never did the repairs. The playground has now been closed for almost 20 years and the building owner has ignored 19 violations, didn’t pay the accumulated $49,000 in fines and didn’t show up at 7 hearings on the dangerous conditions. This situation is not unique. In new York City, there are 1,400 facades that have been deemed dangerous for pedestrians by the DOB and that have not been repaired yet (see New York Times article).

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41-28-MainA pedestrian was killed by falling debris in New York City. 67 year old Xiang Ji was walking on Main Street near 41st Street in Flushing, Queens Thursday morning around 9:45 am. There was a strong wind and as she walked in front of the building located at 41-28 Main Street, a piece of plywood covered with aluminium detached from the roof and fell on her.

The woman was knocked down on the sidewalk. Witnesses tried to help her until EMS arrived. She was rushed to the hospital but she couldn’t be saved.

The building owner who has 18 violations open with the DOB was slapped with another violation for failure to properly maintain the building. The DOB also required the owner of the building to erect a sidewalk shed on the top of the sidewalk to protect pedestrians from any further problems. The previous violations were mostly related to effectuating work without a permit inside the building. (Picture of the location of the accident: courtesy of Google Map)

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Injuries or even deaths related to ice falling from buildings in New York City isn’t something new and it is quite common for NYC pedestrians to see sidewalks partially closed during the winter because of the potential risk of ice chunks falling from buildings.

Recently however, entire streets of the city were closed for several days by the police because of massive chunks of ice falling from supertall glass skyscrapers.

https://youtu.be/3MnUmG4UA4I

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Following the tragic death of  architect Erica Tishman who was killed by falling debris in Times Square, New York two days ago, Inside Edition looked at previous cases of victims struck by falling debris.

They talked to our client Jayson Greene who lost his 2 year old daughter Greta after a brick fell on her. At the time of the accident, Greta was sitting on her grandmother’s lap on a bench in the Upper West Side of Manhattan (see more info in previous blog). Jason  told Inside Edition that no one in New York City should fear for their life when walking in the street. He felt very sad for the family of Erica Tishman who will have to endure the same tragedy his family went through when his daughter was killed.

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Lead poisoning can cause lifetime injuries especially when it affects unborn children, babies or toddlers. Damage to the brain and the nervous system leading to compartmental behavior issues such as irritability, hyperactivity or inattentiveness, learning and reading disorders, delayed gross and hearing loss are among the most common consequences of lead poisoning. Lead paint in housing was banned in the early 70ies and in New York City, The City’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act (Local Law 1 of 2004) requires landlords to check their propriety for lead and take necessary action to remove it if the building was built before 1960 (or if the owner knows lead paint was used between 1960 and 1978 and if children below the age of 6 live in their property).  The plan of the city was to eliminate lead poisoning by the year 2010 but a report by the New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer found that between January 1, 2013 and October 10, 2018 alone, 26,027 children under the age of 18 tragically tested positive for elevated blood lead levels of 5 micro-grams per deciliter (5 mcg/dL) or greater. Furthermore the investigation found that the city knew about it and didn’t take any measures to protect these children.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) received thousands of alarming blood results each of them with the name and the address of the children but the results where never shared with the the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) so they could proactively inspect the locations at risk and take the appropriate measures to address the dangerous situation. Instead HPD only deployed inspectors on locations after receiving complaints from residents.  The report shows that the city clearly missed its goal to eradicate childhood lead poisoning and protect children from the irreparable arm associated with lead exposure. While the City issued the LeadFreeNYC Plan in 2019, the report shows its complete failure  to leverage its own data related to lead exposure and utilize that data to precisely and methodically inspect buildings and areas most likely to pose a threat to children.

Read Report here

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Thankfully nobody was injured by debris that fell from the elevated line tracks in Queens, NYC, last week. Last Wednesday, a hunk of rusty metal fell on Fernando Marin’s car, cracking the windshield. The car was parked on Roosevelt Ave below the elevated tracks. The owner, Fernando Martin told the NY Daily News that it was really scary and that the metal could have hit his head. He felt lucky to be alive.

Almost two weeks before the incident, a Uber driver also had a terrifying experience just two blocks away. A wooden plank from the elevated train platform flew into his car. The driver wasn’t injured but he was in shock. The wooden debris came from an old supply platform that was installed under the tracks years ago. MTA workers were seen dismantling the rest of the rotted wood beams a few days later.

On Monday the MTA also announced that the line 7 elevated tracks were safe and that it was perfectly safe to stand or drive under them. They also indicated that a truck hit the track structure recently in the areas of the falling debris and that this accident may have caused the two incidents but no root cause has been identified.

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A woman was seriously injured in a building collapse in Poughkeepsie yesterday afternoon around 4:00 pm. It took four hours for the firefighters to be able to secure the building and rescue 43-year old Rotanya Hargorve who was trapped in heavy debris. The woman suffered very bad leg injuries and had to be brought out of the accident scene on a stretcher. She was transported to the hospital to be treated.

At the time of the accident, Rotanya was working in a boutique in the building next to the vacant 7-story building near the corner of Canon Street and Academy Street in Poughkeepsie. When the tall building started to collapse, heavy debris fell onto the adjacent 3-story building and caused the roof to cave in. Debris and brick crashed through the building and fell onto Rotanya who was working in the boutique on the first floor located at 15 Academy.

Authorities believe that the collapse was caused by a heavy storm that had just made its way through the area and produced winds exceeding 60 mph. Located a 19 Academy Street, the vacant building was built in 1911 by Manning Cleveland, a businessman who was planning to bring skyscrapers to Poughkeepsie. It was recently sold to Pok 23 Acad and Pok Acad, limited liability companies with New York city addresses. The limited liabilities companies also own the next 2 vacant adjacent buildings located on Academy 21 and Academy 23.

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lead-poisoningMany children were poisoned by lead in New York as the result of the city neglecting to inspect and fix lead paint hazards in  apartments belonging to the New York City Housing Authority. Some children died and others now have to attend special-education programs and will never be able to live a normal life. Despite multiple lawsuits De Blasio was recently heard saying “Thank God there has not been harm done to any child because of the mistakes that have been made.” bFor some weird reasons the mayor is still trying to cover for the disastrous NYCHA behavior.

In a recent article the Daily News looks at the story of Juana Bison, the mother of two twin daughters who lived in Cypress Hills Houses. In 2001 after her twin daughters were born, Juana complained about the painting chipping and peeling in her apartment. She was scared that the paint might contain lead and could harm her twins. She asked NYCHA to fix it. Instead of fixing it, a NYCHA worker forged Juana’signature and signed a form indicating that Juana’s apartment had been inspected and no lead paint was found.

When the two daughters were two-yer-old the mother took them for a medical check-up that found a blood-lead level of 20 micro-grams per deciliter in one of the girls. This level is five time the level deemed acceptable by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This level is dangerous and can affect the development of a child. The other child was ok.

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church fails to maintain buildingA man scavenging for construction material in a half demolished building was seriously injured after he fell through the floor. The accident occurred at a dilapidated Brooklyn building located at the intersection of Rutland Road and Brooklyn Ave in Prospect Lefferts Gardens.  The floor gave way under the weight of the 33 year old man and he got trapped. It took an hour for the paramedics and the firefighters to shore up the basement to take him out. The man was then rushed to the hospital where he was listed in serious condition.

Before being bought by the church next door, the building was a lounge. The church received a violation from the city Environmental Control Board for failure to maintain the building  after it partially collapsed. Concerned neighbors told the DOB at the end of January that the structure “was leaning”. The owner was supposed to raze the entire building but only half of it was demolished.

After the accident the DOB issued 3 violations to the church:

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location of the fatal accidentA man and a woman walking on Howard Street in New York City suffered critical injury after being hit on their heads by a falling piece of fire escape on Friday afternoon.

The man, identified as 58 year old Richard Marchhart from Long Island, succumbed to his injuries a day after his hospitalization. He left behind a wife and three children: a daughter going to high school and two sons going to college.

The injured woman is a 24 year old artist who was on her way to a studio at the New York Academy of Art on Franklin Street.