On May 8, 2023, a Brooklyn jury returned a defense verdict following a one-week trial handled by Matthew Vitucci. The trial involved the claim by Plaintiff, Ausencio Aguirre Martinez, that he slipped and fell from a defectively constructed and inadequately maintained service entry stairway located between the lobby and basement of a building located 1056 5th Avenue, in Manhattan.
At trial, counsel for Plaintiff presented testimony, photographs and video of the incident which showed that Plaintiff, an appliance deliveryman, attempted to deliver, by himself, a 450-pound washing machine down the 22 service entry steps. He lost his balance and fell from the midpoint of the staircase.
Plaintiff claimed to have sustained various and severe injuries from the fall including a fracture dislocation of the right shoulder and lumbar herniations.
Plaintiff claimed that his fall was occasioned by a buildup of water on the steps; he claimed that melting snow from a storm, days earlier, led to melting and that wetness on the sidewalks surrounding the building was tracked into the service area stairway leading to a hazardous condition. Plaintiff alleged that the Defendants failed to inspect, clean, or maintain the steps. It was the further claim of plaintiff that the subject stairway contained treads of non-uniform height which contributed to the fall.
On cross examination, it was highlighted that plaintiff worked with a partner who was available to assist with the delivery of the washing machine. The co-worker admitted on the stand that plaintiff’s taking a heavy piece of equipment down the stairway by himself was dangerous given the number of stairs.
Plaintiff produced an expert to opine on the various allegations presented; the expert’s testimony was limited following a successful challenge via various motions in limine which pointed out that the expert’s conclusions were not supported by any applicable building codes.
Following closing arguments, the jury returned a verdict for the defense after brief deliberations.