This 24-year-old Manhattan man slipped and fell on a patch of ice on a subway step midway down a flight of stairs at the 33rd Street station in New York, three days after a snowstorm.
He suffered a badly fractured ankle, seen in the diagram to the right that was custom made for trial. He told the jury that a Good Samaritan helped him down the rest of the stairs and told the station agent in the booth about what happened. The anonymous New Yorker that had helped waited until EMS arrived, and then left.
Plaintiff argued that the steps should have been clean of all ice and snow.
Defendant argued that it couldn’t be proven that there was ice on the stairs. But plaintiff countered that the defendants had two employees in the station at the time that would have knowledge of what happened. Both were supposed to submit reports on the incident.
But the New York City Transit Authority never turned over the two reports, which had provisions in them to record a description of the incident as well as the names of any witnesses such as the Good Samaritan. A third report, from a supervisor that appeared two hours later, stated that the spot was “damp from weather.”
Plaintiff argued that the defendant could not benefit from its own malfeasance in failing to provide the documents, with descriptions of the condition and the identity of witnesses.
On the issue of liability, the plaintiff called a meteorologist who testified that the supervisor’s report from two hours after the accident said “damp from weather,” and since there were no other weather incidents since the snowstorm three days prior, it must have been residue from the storm that had re-frozen.
The meteorologist also testified that, based on the weather information, the ice would have frozen on the step about 13 hours before the accident occurred and that, since at least one Transit Authority cleaner appeared in the station to check the steps in that intervening time, that they had (or should have had) notice of the ice.
The plaintiff had a plate and screws inserted to reconstruct his ankle. At the time of trial he was scheduled to have the hardware removed two months into the future.
He called as witnesses his treating physician.
The jury found 100% liability against the Transit Authority, and awarded $250,000 for past pain and suffering and $150,000 for future pain and suffering.