Matthew J. Vitucci Obtains Defense Verdict in New York County Negligence Case

December 7, 2021

Last week, following a nearly three-week trial, Matthew Vitucci obtained a defense verdict in Supreme Court, New York County before the Hon. Nancy Bannon on behalf of our clients, a cooperative apartment owner and its property manager. Plaintiff alleged she was injured by falling snow and ice while walking on the sidewalk in front of our clients’ building. Plaintiff claimed she sustained severe brain injuries including concussion, post-concussion syndrome with severe cognitive after-effects including: loss of memory, inability to perform basic functions including reading, maintaining relationships and working at her job; plaintiff further alleged that she sustained additional injuries from the impact with the falling ice including loss of hearing, a dislocated jaw, injuries to the cranial nerves resulting in trigeminal neuralgia, fibromyalgia, and traumatic epilepsy with seizures. Plaintiff alleges that she still suffers from the seizures despite treatment by an epitologist and despite being administered anti-seizure medications.

Plaintiff brought a negligence action against the building owner and property manager, alleging that our clients had notice of a hazardous condition caused by snow and ice accumulating on exterior surfaces of the building. Plaintiff further argued that our clients should have installed ‘ice guards’ to prevent snow and ice from falling to the sidewalk below, and that our clients should have closed off the sidewalk around their building. Despite unambiguous law preventing the admission of evidence of post-accident remedial measures, and Mr. Vitucci’s vehement objections, Judge Bannon even allowed plaintiff to introduce security video footage of our clients closing the sidewalk and clearing snow and ice.

On behalf of our clients, Mr. Vitucci argued that, in fact, the snow and ice had fallen from two large trees that overhung the sidewalk. Furthermore, even if the snow and ice did come from the building, Mr. Vitucci argued, our clients had no notice that such an event could occur as there had never been a similar incident prior to the date of loss. Therefore, our clients had no duty to install ice guards or close the sidewalk on the day of the accident. Mr. Vitucci also deftly used the evidence of our clients’ post-accident remedial measures to demonstrate that our clients were careful, conscientious property owners and managers.

Plaintiff asked the jury for $9.1M in summations. $225k was offered before testimony began. Following two full days of deliberations, the jury found that our clients had not acted negligently and returned a defense verdict.