Directed Verdict in Wrongful Death Action

Yolanda L. Ayala obtained a directed verdict for the defense in a wrongful death/survival action tried before District Judge Thomas P. Griesa of the Southern District of New York. The plaintiff’s decedent fell 20 feet from an elevated train platform located in Bridgeport, Conn., and subsequently succumbed to her severe head injuries. Video evidence demonstrated that the decedent had been walking backwards on the yellow tactile strip immediately prior to her fall.

The plaintiff argued that the property manager of the station and Metro-North were negligent in permitting a gap between an existing guardrail and the edge of the platform to exist. Plaintiff further argued that our client, a security company, was negligent in failing to report this condition and/or in failing to discover the decedent sooner during the course of its patrols.

Ms. Ayala successfully countered this argument by establishing that the “gap” was designed by a non-party more than 40 years ago and no other accidents had occurred during that time, since the gap was an open and obvious condition to anyone who was walking forwards on the platform. She further established, through the testimony of the property manager’s witnesses, that the security company had satisfactorily performed its patrols on the date of the incident. Additionally, Ms. Ayala established, through cross-examination of the plaintiff’s medical expert, Dr. Lone Thanning, that the decedent would not have survived had she been found earlier by the security guards.