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WCM Wins "Battle of the Experts" in Slip and Fall


October 15, 2018 at 10:24:52 PM

Recently, WCM obtained summary judgment and a full dismissal of all claims against our client in <em>Moran v. Levin</em>, NY County Supreme Court, Index No.: 0151444/2016.  Brian Gibbons and Dana Purcaro prepared the motion, which Dana Purcaro <a href="">argued</a> before J. Cohen in NY County.

Plaintiff, who was working at our clients’ home as a housekeeper, slipped and fell on an exterior stairwell, and the fall was captured on our clients’ home security camera. Plaintiff sustained a severe fracture in her leg which required surgery and implantation of hardware.

Plaintiff conceded that it was raining at the time of her accident and that she failed to utilize the handrail, despite having knowledge of its presence. All parties conducted a site inspection with experts wherein measurements were taken, including tests to determine the coefficient of friction of the stairs, as they were made of smooth concrete.

Following the site inspection plaintiff exchanged their expert’s report which conceded that the stairs had a high coefficient of friction and that the stairs complied with the Residential Building Code. The expert then opined that despite that fact, the Court should find that the premises did not comply with accepted standards of safety due to the width of the stairwell (approximately 11 feet) and the fact that there was only one handrail. Our expert confirmed that the stairs were compliant with all applicable codes and rejected plaintiff’s claims that any other code should apply to our clients’ single family dwelling.

At oral argument, the Court rejected plaintiff’s expert’s claims that this home should have complied with other building code regulations and any claim that the placement of the handrail was in any way a contributing factor to plaintiff’s accident. Judge  Cohen granted our motion in its entirety and found that there were no questions of fact as to the safety of the stairs, the code compliance of the stairs, or as to whether the stairs were adequately maintained. Judge Cohen pointed to the video of the accident and said that it bolstered our position as it not only showed the stairs to be well maintained but showed plaintiff running down the steps without using the handrail or accounting for the obvious rain on the exterior steps.

This is an exceptional victory as typically a video of an accident is detrimental to a defense and Judge’s often will find questions of fact when there are two conflicting expert reports.   "Battles of Experts" generally refer to testimony before juries.  Here we were able to avoid the expense and exposure of a trial. (To date, no Notice of Appeal has been served.).


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