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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In Jose Miguel Moran v 200 Varick Street Associates, LLC, et al., 80 A.D.3d 581; 914 N.Y.S.2d 307, The Court granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on his 240(1) cause of action. The plaintiff suffered injury when he fell from a scaffold that lacked proper safety railings. Of particular interest is The Court’s holding regarding intoxication of the injured worker;

“The evidence that the plaintiff was not engaged in a statutorily protected activity or was intoxicated was not admissible (see Zuckerman v City of New York, 49 NY2d 557, 563, 404 N.E.2d 718, 427 N.Y.S.2d 595; Maniscalco v Liro Eng’g Constr. Mgt., 305 A.D.2d 378, 380, 759 N.Y.S.2d 163; Madalinski v Structure-Tone, Inc., 47 AD3d at 688). Moreover, since the scaffold lacked safety railings, the defendant’s alleged intoxication was not the sole proximate cause of his injuries (see Bondanella v Rosenfeld, 298 AD2d 941, 942, 747 N.Y.S.2d 645; Podbielski v KMO-361 Realty Assocs.., 294 A.D.2d 552, 553-554, 742 N.Y.S.2d 664; Sergeant v Murphy Family Trust, 284 AD2d 991, 992, 726 N.Y.S.2d 537).”

The New York Construction Accident Lawyers at Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf have years of experience representing construction workers who have suffered injury in construction accidents in New York.

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By Anthony H. Gair

In Gasques v. State of New York, 15 N.Y.3d 869, 910 N.Y.S.2d 415 (Ct. Apps. 2010), , a two paragraph decision with regard to Section 240(1) the Court stated as follows:

“Claimant Wanderlei Gasques was injured while repainting the inside of a leg of the Kosciuszko Bridge, using a ‘spider scaffold.’ His hand was injured when it became caught between the scaffold and the leg of the bridge, while the scaffold was ascending.

With respect to claimants’ Labor Law §240(1) cause of action, the parties agree that Gasques’s hand was crushed because the scaffold continued to move, under the impetus of one of its motors, while his hand was trapped between an external motor control on the scaffold and the steel of the bridge. This injury was not the direct consequence of the application of the force of gravity to an object or person (see Runner v. New York Stock Exch., Inc., 13 NY3d 599, 604, 922 N.E.2d 865, 895 N.Y.S.2d 279 [2009]; Ross v. Curtis-Palmer Hydro-Elec. Co., 81 NY2d 494, 500-501, 618 N.E.2d 82, 601 N.Y.S.2d 49 [1993]). Therefore claimants’ Labor Law §240(1) claim was properly dismissed.”

On first reading this decision one might conclude that in future cases a defendant might argue that there is no Section 240(1) liability if;

1. A motorized hoist or scaffold is involved.

2. Gravity is not involved if the hoist or scaffold is going up.

3. No 240(1) liability because no elevation related differential.

If one watches the oral argument on The New York Court of Appeals web site one could reasonably conclude that the basis of the decision was that the scaffold was going up since The Justices asked numerous questions as to how gravity could be involved since the scaffold was going up.

It is submitted that the basis for the Court’s decision had nothing to do with the scaffold being motorized or the fact that it was going up but the fact that there was no elevation related differential involved. This seems clear since the Court cited Runner v. New York Stock Exchange, supra.
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In a recent article, the New York Law Journal joined with lawyers and law firms in celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. NITA, as many lawyers know it, is widely recognized as the premier training center for trial lawyers in the United States.

Our partner, Ben Rubinowitz, has been an active faculty member and Team Leader at NITA for more than 25 years and is a member of its Board of Directors. “I consider it a privilege to be a member of such a fine and distinguished organization,” said Rubinowitz. “NITA has helped to train some of the best trial lawyers in the Country and I am proud to be a part of this organization.” Known for its expertise in the field of personal injury law, the lawyers at Gair Gair Conason Steigman Mackauf Bloom and Rubinowitz have obtained some of the largest awards in the country for victims of motor vehicle accidents, construction accidents, products liability cases, medical malpractice and civil rights cases.

NITA

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nylj.gifWe are pleased to announce that our partner Ben Rubinowitz and his good friend and colleague Evan Torgan were recently featured in the New York Law Journal. For more than 10 years Ben Rubinowitz and Evan Torgan have been providing Expert Commentary in their column, “Trial Advocacy.” Often, Richard Steigman of Gair Gair Conason Steigman Mackauf Bloom and Rubinowitz contributes to these articles.

This month they wrote an influential article “Using the Internet as a Tool for Cross-Examination.” According to Rubinowitz, “It is common for Internet users to post status updates, personal comments, photographs, videos and tweets that quite often reveal their recent activities, whereabouts, activities and even their thoughts.” Rubinowitz explained the dangers of such conduct: “All of this information can be used as a tool for cross examination. It now becomes obligatory for lawyers to carefully check the Internet not only to dig up information on the witnesses they expect to cross examine but to check the Internet for content about their own clients as well.

Known as experts in the field of personal injury law, wrongful death cases, medical malpractice cases and products liability claims, Rubinowitz and Torgan have not only written numerous articles but each has obtained multiple million dollar awards for their clients.

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In Pitts v. Bell Constructors, Inc.,et.al., 2011 NY Slip Op 1220 decided February 18, 2011 The New York Appellate Division, 4th Department reversed the lower court’s granting summary judgment to the defendant on plaintiffs’ Labor Law Section 240(1) cause of action and granted plaintiffs’ cross motion on their Section 240(1) claim.

The plaintiff was injured when he fell from a column form in a trench on which he had been standing into the trench. The Court pointed out that while a fall into a trench from the ground on either side is not covered by 240(1) this was not the case in this accident holding as follows;

“Plaintiffs established theirentitlement to judgment as a matter of law by demonstrating that” plaintiff was not furnished with the requisite safety devices andthat the absence of [such] safety devices was a proximate cause of his injuries” (Williams v City of Niagara Falls, 43 AD3d 1426, 1427).Although generally a fall into a trench from the ground on either side is not covered by the statute (see e.g., Bradshaw v National Structures, 249 AD2d 921; Williams v White Haven Mem. Park, 227 AD2d 923), where, as here, a plaintiff is working or walking over a plank or similar support suspended over a trench and falls into it, the statute applies (see Wild v Marrano/Marc Equity Corp., 75 AD3d 1099).”

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By Ernest R. Steigman

The Court of Appeals on February 17, 2011, in a 4 to 3 decision has just written an extremely interesting and important opinion (Kabir v. County of Monroe) regarding New York Vehicle & Traffic Law, Section 1104(e).

The Court held that the reckless disregard standard of care in V & T Law 1104(e) only applies when a driver of an authorized emergency vehicle involved in an emergency operation engages in the specific conduct exempted from the rules of the road by V & T Law 1104(b). Any other injury causing conduct of such a driver is now governed by the principles of ordinary negligence.

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In recognition of his success in the Courtroom, Ben Rubinowitz has been asked to lecture to students attending St. John’s Law School on February 28, 2011. Not only will Ben lecture to the students but he will demonstrate successful cross examination techniques in cases in which Ben has obtained multi-million dollar awards for his client’s. The topics include:

1. cases involving Medical Malpractice— the failure of doctors to timely and appropriately diagnose cancer as well as negligence in conducting surgery and surgical errors;

2. Construction Site Accidents — The failure of General Contractors and Owners to provide a safe place to work resulting in injury and death to construction workers;

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Gloria Aguilar was awarded $27 million
Gloria Aguilar was awarded $27 million

The Appeals Court in New York, known as the Appellate Division, First Department, allowed a total damage award of 18.5 Million Dollars for a woman who lost her leg as a result of the negligence of a bus driver employed by the NYC Transit Authority. The injured woman, Gloria Aguilar, was injured when she was crossing the street in Manhattan. Her left leg was traumatically amputated. This award is the largest ever allowed in the country for this type of injury. Our Partner, Ben Rubinowitz , tried the case in New York Supreme Court and argued the appeal for the injured plaintiff. 2011 Slip Opinion 01117. The case has been widely reported throughout the country.

According to Ben Rubinowitz, ” Our firm is particularly well equipped and staffed to handle cases of this magnitude. We specialize in catastrophic personal injury cases. We are always willing to work harder than anyone else and take the case to verdict to make sure our client’s receive the best possible award. Richard Steigman wrote a powerful and compelling brief. I am delighted that the Appellate Court saw fit to allow this type of damage award. Ms. Aguilar suffered life changing injuries. She was a pedestrian crossing the street when she was struck by the bus. We prepared the case with extreme attention to detail and fully protected our client’s rights and interests. ” In describing his job as a Trial Lawyer, Ben Rubinowitz said, ” A Trial Lawyer must at all times fight for his client’s plight. If the offer to settle is insufficient, this firm is prepared to go the distance. We will not sleep until we achieve the best result we can. The Transit Authority’s offer was insufficient and we insisted on taking the case to verdict. ” GGCSMB&R has some of the finest lawyers in the field of Personal Injury. It is the only Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Firm with 10 Lawyers Listed in the Best Lawyers in America.

$27.5 million payout for mom who lost leg to bus, New York Daily News, April 17th 2009

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Glens Falls Hospital
Glens Falls Hospital

Dr. Stephen Serlin, an obstetrician-gynecologist, has been ordered to pay $3 million for medical malpractice for brain injuries sustained by a girl during childbirth over 17 years ago. Those injuries have been blamed for serious development problems, including cerebral palsy, during the child’s life.

For Serlin, the most damaging event in the trial was testimony that showed he had arrived two hours late for the preparation of a Cesarean section. The plaintiff claimed this delayed the operation and resulted in the serious brain damage. The plaintiffs presented testimony from an expert that showed the girl suffered “fetal asphyxia” in the womb during the delay.

The verdict can be appealed.

Glens Falls doctor ordered to pay $3 million in malpractice decision, Popstar, February 2, 2011