Articles Posted in Municipal Liability

According to a new lawsuit, two federal prison guards in Brooklyn allowed a gang member to attack a fellow inmate causing horrific damage. The injured inmate, Rafael Lopez, alleges in his new lawsuit that the Metropolitan Detention Center knew that Douglas Mendoza was a disturbed person and affiliated with the notoriously violent MS-13 gang.

prison-assaultThe alleged attack took place in September 2016 when Lopez was watching a baseball game in the community room of the Sunset Park prison. Mendoza, who is in prison for murder, then changed the channel. According to Lopez, this sophomoric power play was meant to increase Mendoza’s status among his fellow gang members. After a brief argument, Lopez said that everyone calmed down until Mendoza returned with a sock filled with padlocks. Mendoza then brutally battered Lopez, all within full view of two security guards. Refusing to intervene, a riot squad eventually stopped the bludgeoning. Lopez was left with broken ribs and a lacerated kidney. Unable to protect him from Mendoza, the prison put Lopez in “special housing” for three months before transferring him to another federal jail.  Continue reading

Disgraced New York City Councilman Ruben Wills has sued the City of New York over his treatment while incarcerated on Riker’s Island. According to the former politician, his four-day stint at Rikers caused him immense pain and resulted in his need for a wheelchair. Wills is now trying to hold the Department of Corrections and the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation, which runs medical operations at Rikers, liable for the damages he says were caused by their neglect.

The former councilman was convicted of stealing over $33,000 campaign funds and grants. Wills was originally indicted on multiple fraud and larceny charges in 2014. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that Wills spent government grant money meant for charities at two department stores. Less than a year later, Wills was arrested again on separate charges relating to his campaign. According to the Conflict of Interest Board filings, Wills did not properly disclose his financial dealings.

After refusing a plea deal, Wills was eventually convicted in 2016. The Queens judge who presided over his case immediately expelled him from City Council and sentenced him to two to six years for his crime. Continue reading

Despite its reputation for progressive politics, New York City is failing its residents with physical disabilities. While the subway has long created a nightmare of obstacles for New Yorkers with special needs, sidewalks are also becoming an increasing problem for the city.

Disability advocates point to two main problems with the city’s sidewalks. First, there are an insufficient amount of so-called “curb cuts.” Curb cuts are the term used for the are where the concrete sidewalk becomes level with the asphalt on the street.  For individuals with walkers or wheelchairs, the steady and smooth decline into the street is necessary for their safety. If the curb cut has a large bump or cracks, wheelchairs can be more difficult to navigate, imperiling the safety of the person as he or she attempts to safely cross the street. Continue reading

An audit of Westchester Medical Center (WMC) found company executives were paid millions of dollars in bonuses between 20013 and 2015. State Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli’s office found that $4.6 million dollars were to paid to 18 employees without sufficient record keeping as to why the payments were made.  The hospital was audited because it is a public authority, meaning it follows different state laws than the state’s nonprofit hospitals. The audit did find that some largest bonuses, paid to the CEO and CFO, followed state regulations; the two top executives were paid a total of $2.7 million in bonuses over three years.

WMC officials disagreed with many of the findings and noted they will be implementing a new bonus payment program in order to better comply with the state law and regulations cited in the report. The health system stated they maintain their total compensation approach and salary withhold process are in compliance with the incentive guidelines set forth by the Comptroller’s office. Auditors noted that in the past, state regulators have required an evaluation program with specific criteria and other rules. Continue reading

NYU Langone Medical Center was investigated by the state after a patient caught fire during surgery; the facility was cited due to lapses in safety procedures and communication.  The fire took place in December 2014 when a medical instrument accidentally reacted with the patient’s oxygen and sparked a fire. The Department of Health inspected the hospital and declared an “immediate jeopardy” situation due to the gaps in safety procedures and communication.  The New York Post was able to obtain the report on the incident through a Freedom of Information Law request,  however the report was heavily redacted.

The name of the patient, nature of surgery, and type of instrument that caused the fire were not revealed in the report, making it unclear as to what injuries the patient sustained. The operating room staff told investigators that a fire-risk assessment was conducted prior to the surgery, but they did not provide any details of the strategies or actions of prevention that were discussed. The operation room fire occurred at the beginning of December, but there was no evidence that the hospital took remedial steps to implement prevention protocols until the after the state inspection later that month.

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In a report released January 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that there were 10,388 severe workplace injuries in 2015; 7,636 of those injuries resulted in hospitalization and 2,644 resulted in amputations. The manufacturing industry has the highest reported accidents, accounting for 57% of all amputations and 26% of all hospitalizations, followed by the construction, transportation and warehousing industries. This data was collected by OSHA from 26 states with higher safety standards than federally mandated.

The report came as the result of new regulations that require companies to report serious workplace accidents within 24 hours. This new program took effect on January 1, 2015 in an effort to reduce the amount of workplace injuries; currently there are 30 severe work-related injuries a day. OSHA stated that during investigations of fatal injuries they often find a history of serious injuries at the site, which was a wake-up call that safety issues were being disregarded. Continue reading

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department in Montenegro v P12, LLC, 2015 NY Slip Op 05919 [130 AD3d 695] reversed a lower court’s decision granting a defendant’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss a cause of action alleging a violation of Labor Law § 241(6), predicated on 12 NYCRR 23-1.8(a).

The plaintiff was employed as a carpenter on a renovation project at a premises owned by the defendant.  The plaintiff was injured while using a pneumatic nail gun to attach molding around a window.  He was struck in the eye with a nail and sustained injuries to the eye. Continue reading

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department in Bergin v Golshani, 2015 NY Slip Op 06103 [130 AD3d 767], denied a defendant’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss a cause of action alleging negligence.

In the slip-and-fall case, the plaintiff sought to recover damages for personal injury for defendant’s failure to inspect the area where plaintiff was injured.  Here, the plaintiff fell on a loose piece of slate on a slate stone landing.  Nassau County Supreme Court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss the plaintiff’s cause of action alleging negligence.  The defendant’s cross-appealed the court’s decision denying its motion for summary judgment to dismiss the cause of action.  Continue reading

In Amandola v Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Ctr., 2015 NY Slip Op 06099 [130 AD3d 761], the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department denied a defendant’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss a cause of action for failure to provide adequate supervision in its school.

A plaintiff brings suit against his school for failure to provide adequate supervision after being injured by his classmates on multiple occasions.  The plaintiff commenced this action against his school because his school failed to intervene after students repeatedly assaulted the plaintiff on school grounds and in the classroom.  Continue reading

The Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, First Department has reversed an order issued by the Supreme Court for New York County that granted the City of New York’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint that an icy patch caused her to fall and injure herself.

frozen.jpgOn December 23, 2008, the plaintiff was walking on a public sidewalk when she slipped on some ice and fell. She later filed a lawsuit against the City of New York, alleging the City failed to timely clear the sidewalk of ice in order to prevent her fall. The City filed a motion for summary judgment to dismiss the complaint.

As a matter of law, a motion for summary judgment will only be granted if no genuine issue of material fact exists that needs to be decided by a jury. In its motion, the City argued several things. First, the City argued that the plaintiff contradicted herself in her affidavit and her deposition regarding what exactly she slipped on. At her deposition, the plaintiff described the ice as “dirty” with “snow layers on top of layers.” The plaintiff later clarified in her deposition that the ice was “slushy ice” that was “clean, like slippery, flat” with a little snow on top. However, in an affidavit submitted in opposition to the City’s motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff stated that the ice was “one inch thick, flat, hard, and dirty, as if it had existed for several days.” The appellate court held the deposition was not inconsistent with the affidavit. In addition, the appellate court held it generated a dispute of fact that needed to be tried, not decided on a motion for summary judgment.

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