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.
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IMG_3253-e1580916956170Two years ago, Harry Ramnauh was crushed to death by a glass panel at a Manhattan construction site. He was a security guard at the construction site of the $3 billion Luxury Central Park Tower which when completed will be the tallest residential building in the world. Reaching 112 floors and a height of 1,550 feet, it is also the most expensive development in New York City. Apartments are listed at up to $63 million with a total projected sellout of $4 billion. (see building under construction on the right side of the picture)

Contractor argues that “failure to safeguard the public” doesn’t apply because the victim was a worker

After the death of the security guard, The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) issued several citations to Lendlease, the general contractor for the construction of the residential tower.  Lendlease successfully fought most of the violations and recently filed another petition against the DOB and the Office of Administration Trials and Hearings  arguing that one of the citations, “failure to safeguard the public during construction”, doesn’t apply to the case because the victim was not a member of the public but a worker at the construction site. Lendlease also argues that the violation was issued based on an inspection that occurred 3 days after the accident and therefore it didn’t reflect the conditions at the time of the fatal construction accident.

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location of the pedestrian accident in NYCA pedestrian died after being rolled over by a car backing out of a driveway in NYC. The accident occurred at 30-23 69th Street in Jackson Heights, Queens around 6:15 pm on February 2nd. The driver of a Honda backed out of his driveway, struck a 57 year old man who was standing on the sidewalk and rolled over him.  The man was rushed to the hospital but he could not be saved. His identity was not released by the police. The victim is the first pedestrian to die in a car accident in February 2020. Last month 14 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in New York City: 5 in Brooklyn, 5 in Queens, 2 in the Bronx and 2 in Manhattan.

The driver whose identity wasn’t released either, stayed at the scene of the accident and was not charged.

Drivers must exercise due care while backing out of a driveway especially when it is dark outside

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trucks-kills-cyclist-tweetA cyclist was killed in a truck accident in NYC last week.

41 year old Pedro Lopez is the first cyclist to die in a traffic accident in New York City in 2020. He was killed by a reckless truck driver who was making an illegal U-turn at high speed on Vandervoort Avenue in Brooklyn. The accident occured on Thursday around 2:40 pm. The cyclist was rear ended by the truck. He was rushed to the hospital where he later died from his injuries.

Despite a video showing the recklessness of the truck driver, the police didn’t charge him

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Reckless driving caused two people to die in separate car accidents in the New York area at the end of last week.

In the first accident, 39 year old Lisettte Quintanilla was driving home with her 8-year-old son when they were rear ended by a speeding drunk driver identified as 26-year-old Nicole Pollock. The accident occurred a little bit after midnight on Sunday morning. Quintanilla was driving on the Meadowbrook State Parkway. She was in the northbound lane just after exit M7 when Pollock rear ended her, causing the car to leave the road and crash into a tree. Quintanilla was rushed to the hospital where she died. Her 8-year-old son suffered a broken arm.

Pollok first tried to walk  away from the scene of the accident when the police was attending to the victims. She then resisted arrest, fought with the police and tried to slip out of her handcuffs. She was charged with vehicular manslaughter, DWI and assault. When she appeared in front of the judge yesterday she pleaded not guilty to the charges. The judge deemed her a flight risk and ordered her held in jail instead of a $200,000 bond.

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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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SUNY-DownstateTwo top level transplant surgeons are alleging that they have been fired by SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn after they raised the alarm on gross medical malpractice occurring in the cardiothoracic surgery and cardiothoracic intensive care units.

Dr Gruesser, a top transplant surgeon who operated on Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford after she was shot and saved her life, was hired by SUNY as Downstate’s Chair of the Department and Chief of Transplant. When hiring him SUNY’s goal was that he would turn Downstate’s Cardiothoracic Program and General Surgery Residency program around.

During his tenure, DR Gruesser and his team uncovered several serious patients safety issues including:

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2 construction workers died after a trench collapsed in Long Island, NY. The two men were installing a septic tank for a private home located on Wolver Hollow Road in Brookville. They were 30 feet down at the bottom of the excavated area when one of the walls collapsed. Dirt and sand quickly covered the two men. First responders rushed to the rescue. They were able to recover one of the worker who was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. As they were digging with their hands and shovels to search for the second worker, another wall started to give way. Rescuers had to promptly exit and the wall had to be secured until the search for the other man could continue.  His body was finally recovered.  The workers whose identity has not been released were 45 and 57 year old. Read more on the ABC website .

https://www.newyorkpersonalinjuryattorneysblog.com/files/2020/01/1200px-Excavation_for_installation_of_light_towers_at_the_under_construction_Mid-Day_Storage_Yard_in_Queens._CQ033_9-8-2017_37101223191.jpgExcavation is one of the most dangerous activities in the construction industry. In 2018, OSHA launched a National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation in order to reduce the number of injuries and deaths related to this activity. This emphasis program was launched after a recent surge of fatalities and serious injuries related to trenching and excavating. In the fourth quarter of 2019, a contractor who failed to adequately protect his employees during excavation work was slapped with a $161,771 OSHA fine. This fine was among the top 5 highest OSHA fines for the last quarter of 2019. Thankfully nobody was injured but OSHA inspectors found out that the contractor was violating several safety requirements related to excavating work such as not having a competent person conducting regular inspections of the excavation or letting workers continue to work  in an excavation that he knew was unsafe.

In 2017, an unlicensed New York contractor was criminally charged with manslaughter after a wall collapsed on his construction site killing 18 year old Fernando Vanegaz and injuring two of his colleagues (see previous blog)

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was-it-worth-itLast year 28 cyclists died in traffic accidents in New York City and more than half of them were killed by trucks  and SUVs. Most of the time the driver was a man.

Last Friday, the DOT announced that it invested 4 million in a new campaign targeting men driving trucks and SUVs. The “Was it Worth it?” campaign depicts images of pedestrian and bicycle accidents with a male driver in shock and the message “Was it worth it?” in various languages. Additional audio campaigns will also be run in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole on several local radio stations during commuting time.

Since Mayor de Blasio launched Vision Zero in 2014, traffic fatalities decreased over the years except for last year. 203 people died in car accidents in 2019. More than half of them were pedestrians. On average over the last few years, men were found to be responsible for 75% of the fatalities with 41% of them driving a truck or a SUV.

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mayo-logoNew York Medical Malpractice Lawyer Ben Rubinowitz

Next week our managing Partner Ben Rubinowitz will be speaking at the prestigious  Mayo Clinic annual Review on Medical Malpractice.

The physicians at the MAYO clinic have asked Ben Rubinowitz, a plaintiff’s lawyer,  to speak on healthcare and medical issues that have resulted in medical malpractice claims in which patients were injured.   This year Mr. Rubinowitz will not only lecture but will conduct demonstrative cross examinations of physicians, basing his examinations on real cases, in which patients have suffered injury due negligent treatment of prostate cancer, kidney stones, ureteral injury and inappropriate surgical technique. Mr. Rubinowitz has been regarded as an expert in the field of Medical Malpractice for more than 25 years and has lectured throughout the country on these issues. “I am honored to have been asked to speak by the physicians at the MAYO clinic.  This is an institution often regarded as the top institution in the country”  said Ben Rubinowitz.
Indeed, the Mayo Clinic was recently ranked as the Country’s Number 1 Hospital overall and top ranked in 12 specialties by US News and World Report.
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helpA new searchable database including US Catholic Clergy members that have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct or assault on children is now available for anyone to search. The database created by ProPublica can be accessed here.

The catholic leaders said they would be transparent about their clergy members who were credibly accused of sexual abuse but they haven’t so far. While lists of abusers have been released many of them are still incomplete.

Investigators at ProPublica spent months collecting data from the various lists of predators released by the various dioceses of the Catholic Church to create the most extensive database of clergy members that have been  deemed credibly accused of child abuse in America. The list contains the name and detailed information of 6,754 clergy members who abused children in 178 different dioceses across the US covering a population of 64.7 million Catholics.