Our managing partner Ben Rubinowitz, is a renown trial lawyer who has obtained many of the largest verdicts in New York State history. He was interviewed by Brian Lee, a litigation reporter for the New York Law Journal about a recent report by Marathon Strategies that puts New York State as the 10th state with the highest total number of what they call “nuclear” and “thermonuclear verdicts”. The report identifies “nuclear verdicts” as verdicts of $10 million and above and “thermonuclear verdicts” as verdicts of $100 million and above. According to their findings the number of verdicts against corporations in the US doubled between 2020 and 2022 with the median “nuclear verdict” increasing from $21.5 million in 2020 to $41.1 million in 2022.
The report indicates that corporations facing trial in New York are more likely to be hit by “thermonuclear verdicts” than in any other State. While at federal level two extraordinary verdicts account for most of the total of the large verdicts ($956 million in the fraud matter Liberty Media Corp. v. Vivendi Universal in 2012 and $253 million in the employment case Velez v. Novartis Corp. in 2010), verdicts in New York State courts were lower. The report indicates that 42% of the State verdicts above $10 million were cases related to product liability (such as asbestos cases), worker/workplace negligence and construction accidents. In regards to the last category the report points out that many of the large construction cases are related to the New York Labor Law 240 or “Scaffolding Law” which render employers strictly liable for workers injured as a result of inadequate or missing safety equipment at elevated work sites. With falls remaining the number one cause of death in the New York construction industry, the “scaffolding law” has proven instrumental in assuring that employers are providing the necessary fall safety equipment to their workers and making sure that they are always using it while working at heights.
Ben Rubinowitz sees the report as a “lobbying vehicle for insurance companies that don’t want to pay claims while raising the average consumers’ premiums”. Among the recent jury verdicts obtained by Ben was a $59 million verdict for Alonzo Yanes, a high School student who suffered catastrophic burn injuries in a botched science experimentation. Alonzo underwentmore than 100 surgeries and will remain disfigured for the rest of his life. While Judge Alexander Tisch considered the verdict appropriate, the final award was reduced to $29 million by the Appellate Division, First Department in 2021.