This is the first of a two part issue on the value of knee injuries. We suspect that you will be unpleasantly surprised by the amounts sustained by the Appellate Division. Unfortunately the cases we will report on next week will not make you any less unpleasantly surprised. Speaking of surprises, it is no surprise that Election Day is 6 days away. That said, according to some news sources, to date 69.5 million Americans have already had their “election day”. If you have voted, bravo! If you have not voted remember the words of LBJ who once said, “This right to vote is the basic right without which all others are meaningless. It gives people, people as individuals, control over their own destinies.” LBJ said lot of other things, none of which we will quote. Vote!
SERMONETA V. NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY (151 A.D.3d 565)
REDUCED: June 15, 2017, Appellate Division, First Department
VENUE: Supreme New York
TYPE OF CASE: Trip and Fall
FACTS: A man slipped on slime coming from a trash can on the subway platform and fell, knocking the plaintiff down.
- The plaintiff claimed that she suffers from traumatic arthritis in her knee as a result of the accident.
- The plaintiff testified that she continues to experience pain and difficulty bending her knee.
- The plaintiff claimed to suffer from mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life.
- The plaintiff’s treating psychiatrist and expert forensic psychiatrist testified to her mental health damages.
- The defense did not attempt to rebut the plaintiff’s mental health claims with expert testimony.
REDUCTION: The jury awarded $700,000 for past pain and suffering and $2 million for the future 15 years of pain and suffering. The Appellate Division, First Department reduced the award for the future 15 years of pain and suffering to $1 million. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, $1.8 million in 2017 is equivalent to $1,912,612.52 in 2020.
LUNA V. NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY (2014 NY Slip Op 02330)
AFFIRMED: April 3, 2014, Appellate Division, First Department
VENUE: Supreme Bronx
TYPE OF CASE: Trip and Fall
FACTS: A 47-year-old physician was walking to find a seat on the bus, while holding onto the handrail, when the bus suddenly accelerated, causing her to fall to the ground on her right knee.
- The plaintiff suffered from a tear of her right lateral meniscus.
- The plaintiff underwent arthroscopic surgery on her right knee.
- The plaintiff received 12 physical therapy sessions, all of which she claimed were very painful.
- The plaintiff was unable to work for three months following the surgery and was required to use a cane for over a month.
- The plaintiff testified that she continues to experience extreme pain in her right knee, which has required her to take pain medication and limit her activities.
- The injury aggravated and activated arthritis in the plaintiff’s right knee.
- The plaintiff’s expert physician opined that the plaintiff has a permeant partial disability and will likely need a knee replacement.
AFFIRMATION: The Appellate Division, First Department affirmed the jury’s award of $500,000 for the past 3.5 years and $500,000 for the future 34 years of pain and suffering. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, $1 million in 2014 is equivalent to $1,097,894.31 in 2020.
SMITH V. MANHATTAN & BRONX SURFACE TRANSIT OPERATING AUTHORITY (58 A.D.3d 552)
AFFIRMED: January 27, 2009, Appellate Division, First Department
VENUE: Supreme Bronx
TYPE OF CASE: Automobile Liability
FACTS: A woman was attempting to board a bus when the bus driver closed the door on the plaintiff’s arm and drove away. The plaintiff was dragged for approximately eight feet before the driver realized that her arm was trapped in the door.
- The plaintiff suffered severe damage to her left knee: tears of the medical and lateral menisci, a torn ligament, torn cartilage in various places. And damage to the patella, with permanent osteochondral defect.
- The plaintiff underwent arthroscopic surgery several months after the accident.
- The plaintiff claimed that despite the surgery, she did not regain full function of her knee.
- The plaintiff testified that she continues to suffer from chronic pain, swelling and buckling of the knee.
- The plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgeon opined that the plaintiff would need at least one additional arthroscopic surgery, however the damages were permeant and would continue to develop, and may require further surgical procedures, including a knee replacement.
AFFIRMATION: The Appellate Division, First Department affirmed the jury verdict of $100,000 for past and $100,000 for future pain and suffering. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, $180,000 in 2009 is equivalent to $221,889.43 in 2020.