James Deegan Obtains Defense Verdict In Liability Trial In Kings Supreme — Slip And Fall Recurring Ice Condition On Stairway

August 17, 2018

Following a three-day bifurcated trial before The Honorable Larry Martin in the Supreme Court, Kings County, James Deegan obtained a defense verdict for our clients, in the matter of Guez v. Frishberg. At trial, the issue was whether the defendants were negligent in allowing or creating a recurring ice condition caused by improperly maintained awnings and gutters; which allowed for melting snow to run off onto the landing and the exterior stairs below. GVK clients, Kenneth and Sally Frishberg, the owners and first floor residents of a two-family residential building in Brooklyn, NY, rented the 2nd floor apartment of the building to plaintiff. The Frishbergs retained the responsibility of maintaining the exterior of the premises, including snow and ice removal throughout the course of the tenancy.

Plaintiff claimed that his fall was due to the accumulation of ice on the landing from snow melting and freezing over the course of several days, which stemmed from a snow storm of over twenty-two inches that fell five days earlier. Although, defendants admitted to the recurring ice condition and the presence of ice on the stairway, Mr. Deegan argued that the incident arose from plaintiff tripping rather than slipping on ice and citing to an EMT report quoting plaintiff, and that the landing outside plaintiff’s front door was free and clear of ice. Mr. Deegan ultimately convinced the jury that plaintiff was solely responsible for his own accident by virtue of his admissions to the EMT attendants and convinced the jury that plaintiff’s fall was not due to any recurring ice condition caused or created by the defendants.

Plaintiff claimed the incident caused injuries to his neck, back and a displaced distal fracture of the humerus requiring surgery involving open reduction and internal fixation and several months of physical therapy.

Plaintiff’s pre-trial demand was $450,000.00. A final offer of $175,000.00 was made at the close of plaintiff’s case, however, plaintiff rejected the offer. The trial proceeded to summations and verdict wherein the jury returned a defense verdict in less than 45 minutes.