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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Our partner Jeffery Bloom settled this complex and difficult liability New York Medical Malpractice case in New York Supreme Court, Nassau County following two mediations. The case arose as a result of the alleged negligent care by the defendant doctors’ of the plaintiffs’ daughter a then 10-year old girl. It was claimed that the defendants failed to timely diagnose and treat a benign brain tumor, a craniopharyngioma, for years, until the tumor grew to the size of a golf ball and invaded both optic nerves, hypothalamus, the anterior and posterior cerebral arteries, the carotid artery, and the third ventricle of her brain.

As a result it was alleged she suffered injury, including blindness, Unable to deal emotionally with her blindness and other medical issues, it was claimed she suffered from clinical depression.

The attorneys at Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf have years of experience representing patients who have been injured or have died as the result of medical malpractice.

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By Rhonda Kay, Partner, Gair Gair Conason Steigman Mackauf Bloom & Rubinowitz;

In Edwards v. Erie Coach Lines Co. (17 N.Y.3d 306, 929 N.Y.S.2d 41 [2011]) The New York Court of Appeals clarified choice of law analysis in a multi-party case.

New York’s choice of law analysis, commonly referred to as an “interest analysis,” focuses on determining which jurisdiction, “because of its relationship or contact with the occurrence or the parties, has the greatest concern with the specific issue raised in the litigation” (Cooney v. Osgood Mach., 81 N.Y.2d 66, 595 N.Y.S.2d 919 [1993], quoting Babcock v. Jackson, 12 N.Y.2d 473, 240 N.Y.S.2d 743 [1963]). Assuming a conflict between the laws, a preliminary inquiry in the analysis is whether the substantive law at issue constitutes a “conduct-regulating” or a “loss-allocating” rule. Loss-allocating rules apply post-remedial, i.e., once there is admittedly tortious conduct, while conduct-regulating rules are those which people use as a guide to governing their primary conduct (see, Schultz v. Boy Scouts of America, Inc., 65 N.Y.2d 189, 491 N.Y.S.2d 90 [1985]).

The landmark case on this issue is Padula v. Lilarn Props. Corp. (84 N.Y.2d 519, 620 N.Y.S.2d 310 [1994]). The Court of Appeals there explained the distinction as follows:

“Conduct-regulating rules have the prophylactic effect of governing conduct to prevent injuries from occurring. ‘If conflicting conduct-regulating laws are at issue, the law of the jurisdiction where the tort occurred will generally apply because that jurisdiction has the greatest interest in regulating behavior within its borders'” (citation omitted).

Examples of conduct-regulating rules would be New York Labor Law sections 240 and 241, rules of the road, and statutes dictating a standard of care.

Loss allocating rules, on the other hand, are those which prohibit, assign, or limit liability after the tort occurs, such as charitable immunity statutes, guest statutes, no-fault statutes, wrongful death statutes, wrongful birth statutes, vicarious liability statutes, workers’ compensation statutes and contribution rules (see, Padula v. Lilarn Props. Corp. supra). Where the conflicting rules at issue are loss allocating, the outcome depends on the application of the rules set forth in Neumeier v. Kuehner (31 N.Y.2d 121, 335 N.Y.S.2d 64 [1972]).

The three Neumeier rules are as follows:

1. When the passenger [plaintiff] and the driver [defendant] are domiciled in the same state, and the vehicle is registered there, the law of that state controls;

2. This rule addresses the situation where the driver and the passenger are domiciled in different states, and the law of the place where the accident occurs favors its domiciliary. When the driver’s [defendant’s] conduct occurred in the state of his domicile and that state does not cast him in liability for that conduct, he should not be held liable by reason of the fact that liability would be imposed upon him under the tort law of the state of the victim’s domicile, and therefore driver’s state law applies. Conversely, if the law of the place where the accident occurred permits the injured passenger to recover, then the driver, “in the absence of special circumstances,” may not interpose a conflicting law of his state as a defense;

3. In other situations, when the passenger [plaintiff] and the driver [defendant] are domiciled in different states, the rule is necessarily less categorical. Normally, the applicable rule of decision will be that of the state where the accident occurred but not if it can be shown that displacing that normally applicable rule will advance the relevant substantive law purposes without impairing the smooth working of the multi-state system or producing great uncertainty for litigants.
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By Anthony Gair;

Resolution of whether a plaintiff has a viable action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 turns on whether the applicable state statute is inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States; Robinson v. Wegman, 436 U.S. 584, 98 S. Ct. 1991 (1978) citing 42 U.S.C. §1988. New York’s wrongful death law which limits damages to pecuniary loss is clearly inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States.

In Sinkov v. AmeriCor, Inc., 419 Fed. Appx. 86,(2d Circ.,2011) an action for wrongful death of a decedent with no dependents The Court held;

“AmeriCor correctly points out that under New York law, post-death lost-earnings damages are not recoverable in wrongful death cases where a decedent leaves behind no dependents and no persons who reasonably expect to receive future support from him. See Freier v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 303 F.3d 176, 199-200 (2d Cir. 2002); Zelizo v. Ullah, 2 A.D.3d 273, 769 N.Y.S.2d 255 (1st Dep’t 2003). Had the district court admitted Dr. Crakes’s earnings testimony as bearing on plaintiffs’ state law claims, we would agree that his testimony was irrelevant and should have been excluded. But that is not what the district court did. The record makes clear that Dr. Crakes’s testimony regarding loss of earning capacity was introduced only for, and was explicitly limited to, the estate’s 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim.

The New York authority on which AmeriCor relies does not address the extent of damages permitted in an action for violation of constitutional rights. We have long recognized that when state law damages limitations conflict with the purposes of § 1983, we need not defer to those limitations. We have long recognized that when state law damages limitations conflict with the purposes of § 1983, we need not defer to those limitations. We have concluded in the past, for example, that New York’s survival statute was inconsistent with § 1983 because (at the time) the New York statute “prevent[ed] the survival of claims for punitive damages after the death of the plaintiff’s decedent.” McFadden v. Sanchez, 710 F.2d 907, 911 (2d Cir. 1983). In McFadden, we stated that we have no doubt that limitations in a state survival statute have no application to a [§] 1983 suit brought to redress a denial of right that caused the decedent’s death. To whatever extent [§] 1988 makes state law applicable to [§] 1983 actions, it does not require deference to a survival statute that would bar or limit the remedies available under [§] 1983 for unconstitutional conduct that causes death.”

In the oft-cited case Jaco v. Bloechle, et. al., 739 F.2d 239 (6th Circ., 1984) the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals followed the reasoning of the Supreme Court in Robertson in reversing the dismissal of plaintiff’s §1983 complaint.

In Jaco plaintiff’s son was shot and instantly killed by police officers. Among the actions brought by plaintiff alleging violation of decedent’s civil rights were claims predicated upon violations of the decedent’s Constitutional rights and 42 U.S.C. §1983. The appeal ensued when the District Court held that decedent’s civil rights cause of action did not survive his death and thus granted defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.
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In The Courts

  • A Missouri jury returned a medical malpractice judgment of more than $1 million in favor of the parents of a boy who died during birth at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin before an emergency C-section was performed.
  • San Francisco wrongful death lawsuit against BART police will proceed despite DA exoneration. An officer fatally shot a homeless man, Charles Hill, during a confrontation in July 2011 at the Civic Center station.
  • Families of two workers killed last year when an equalization basin wall collapsed on them at the Gatlinburg Wastewater Treatment Plant have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the city of Gatlinburg among other entities.
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Jeffery Bloom will participate in The 2012 Issues In Neonatology Symposium sponsored by Winthrop-University Hospital to be held March 8, 2012 at the Garden City Hotel, 45 Seventh Street, Garden City New York. Jeffery will take part in;

The Mock Trial: A Case of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)

Moderator and Judge: Avroy A. Fanaroff, MD Defense Expert: Gilbert I. Martin, MD Plaintiff Expert: Jonathan M. Fanaroff, MD, JD Defense Attorney: Charles Bach Plaintiff Attorney: Jeffrey B. Bloom

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In McCallister v 200 Park, L.P., 2012 NY Slip Op 01595, decided 2/28/12 The Appellate Division, Second Department, granted the motion by the plaintiff construction worker for summary judgment on his 240(1) claim despite the fact that the base of a scaffold which fell and struck him was at the same level as the worker.

This case is part of a trend following The Court of Appeals decision in Wilinski v 334 E. 92nd Hous. Dev. Fund Corp., 18 NY3d 1 rejecting the same level rule. In McCallister the plaintiff and co-workers were moving four stacked scaffolds which were placed on a Baker scaffold. The total weight of the four stacked scaffolds was about 450 to 550 pounds. As they were moving the Baker scaffold the right front and then the left front wheel broke off. The plaintiff squatted down with the bars of the scaffold on his chest in order to pick up the wheelless end of the scaffold. Rather than moving it to the side as the plaintiff expected, the foreman pushed the scaffold towards him. The scaffold fell forward onto the plaintiff’s chest, allegedly pinning him against the wall and injuring his spine. As demonstrated by this case the Courts have been focusing on the weight of the device and its load, and the force it was able to generate over its descent. In granting the motion the Court stated;

” “Although the base of the scaffold was at the same level as the plaintiff and the scaffold only fell a short distance, given the combined weight of the device and its load, and the force it was able to generate over its descent, this difference was not de minimis (see Wilinski v 334 E. 92nd Hous. Dev. Fund Corp., 18 NY3d 1, 10; Runner v New York Stock Exch., Inc., 13 NY3d 599, 605; DiPalma v State of New York, 90 AD3d 1659; Pritchard v Tully Constr. Co., Inc., 82 AD3d 730, 730-731; Gutman v City of New York, 78 AD3d 886, 886-887). Thus, the plaintiff suffered harm that ” flow[ed] directly from the application of the force of gravity to the [broken scaffold]'” (Wilinski v 334 E. 92nd Hous. Dev. Fund Corp., 18 NY3d at 10, quoting Runner v New York Stock Exch., Inc., 13 NY3d at 6.”

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Howard S. Hershenhorn
Howard S. Hershenhorn
Gair Gair Conason
Steigman Mackauf
Bloom & Rubinowitz

Thomson Reuters, in an article entitled, “Crane collapse trial could be uphill battle for prosecutors” quoted Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf partner, Howard S. Hershenhorn, on the difficulties of prosecuting the 2008 crane collapses in Manhattan that killed nine people.  Hershenhorn, who represented the widow of the crane operator who died in the first collapse, was quoted as saying, “In a criminal case, you’re picking one actor, unless you’re charging a conspiracy. It’s very difficult to find one actor. There are so many factors.”

You can read the rest of the article here.

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In The Courts

  • Relatives are suing the nursing home where a 77-year-old dementia resident walked away from last month and later died.
  • International drug maker Teva Pharmaceuticals will pay more than a quarter billion dollars to settle most of the lawsuits arising from Southern Nevada’s hepatitis C outbreak.
  • A woman who had a marble-sized lump that a doctor first said was not malignant, wins $15M in Malpractice Suit.
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In Kempisty v 246 Spring St., LLC, 2012 NY Slip Op 00901, Decided on February 9, 2012, New York Appellate Division, First Department, The Court modified the decision of the lower Court dismissing the plaintiff’s 240(1) claim to the extent of reinstating the § 240(1) claim and granting plaintiff summary judgment.

The plaintiff alleged that he suffered a serious injury to his right foot when a steel block being hoisted by a crane improperly swung in his direction. He had been assigned the job of hooking blocks to the crane and acted as the signal man for the crane operator, Leonardo Marino. At his deposition, plaintiff testified that a second before the accident he was standing about two to three feet above the ground on a stack of blocks. Plaintiff further testified that the block that struck him had been vertically lifted about two feet before the accident occurred. Marino also testified that the block in question was vertically lifted about two to three feet. Plaintiff was standing two to three feet off the ground and the block was lifted off the ground approximately two feet when it began to swing. Hence the plaintiff and the block that struck him were at about the same height.

In granting summary judgment The Court held;

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This presentation is part of the New York State Bar Association Construction Site Accidents seminar 2011. Howard Hershenhorn is a partner at Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf.

Mr. Hershenhorn has extensive experience in high profile personal injury cases in the areas of medical malpractice, automobile accidents, construction accidents, municipal liability and products liability.