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March 2015 Archives

Yeshiva's $100M suit vs. Ramapo villages Dismissed

Judge Karras of the Federal District Court, Southern District, ruled that a yeshiva failed to prove that several villages in the town of Ramapo opposed a housing development based on anti-Hasidic sentiments.
This lawsuit that has pending more than 10 years and involves a lawsuit brought by Mosdos Chofetz Chaim and against the villages of Pomona, Chestnut Ridge, Wesley Hills and Montebello.
Essentially, the yeshiva alleges that the villages discriminated against the yeshiva. In particular, the yeshiva claims the sole reason the villages incorporated was to curtail the expansion of Hasidic neighborhoods through restrictive zoning.
Rabbi Aryeh Zaks, his family and other Chofetz Chaim officials claimed the villages conspired to deprive the yeshiva of its civil, religious and equal protection clause rights under the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Fair Housing Act.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas, in a 76-page decision, wrote that, while he was sympathetic to accusations of discrimination, there was a lack of evidence in the yeshiva's case.
He wrote that yeshiva officials "have offered nothing more than conclusory, unsubstantiated assertions in support" of civil rights violations and "threadbare allegations alone will not suffice to defeat" a request by the village's lawyers to dismiss the legal action.

Major Explosion -- Building Collapse -- in the East Village of NYC

According to the New York Times, a powerful explosion in Lower Manhattan on Thursday caused two buildings to collapse and ignited a large fire that quickly spread to neighboring buildings, leaving at least 19 people injured. At least one person was reported missing.

Want to Protect People from Car Accidents? Require Larger Insurance Policies

In a New York Times article the other day, entitled "Safety Advocates Want Harsher Penalties for New York's Drivers," written by Emma G. Fitzsimmons, the paper questioned whether there was more to be done to protect pedestrians and motorists from dangerous drivers. The paper noted that very rarely are drivers that drive dangerously held criminally liable for their actions. The paper noted that even where a driver is speeding, causes an accident and kills someone, the driver will not be arrested. This is because New York State is loath to "criminalize" bad driving. The paper then pondered ways to fix this problem. The paper offered that lowering the bar to make such bad drivers criminally responsible might now be necessary and could help deter people from driving recklessly in the future. The paper also offered as a solution educating the public so that they realize that driving fast or carelessly just doesn't put them at risk but everyone at risk. But I think the paper misses one important point to this story. Yes, it's clear that bad drivers should be held criminally responsible. They should be held responsible for their actions. I think that goes without saying. But, honestly, being held criminally responsible won't get your mom or dad back if they were killed by some reckless driver. And bringing criminal charges won't help the family who just lost their bread winner. What are we doing to help these people pay the bills? Yes, there are personal injury attorneys who can sue the driver. But, in New York, drivers are only required to obtain liability insurance worth $25,000. That means if you cause an accident and seriously injure somebody, your insurance company will only pay the family of the injured person $25,000. If the person is killed, the statutory minimum paid to the family will be $50,000. That barely will pay the funeral costs. To me, that's the biggest problem right now. New York car insurance policies are too small to take care of the families who have been devastated by careless drivers. New York needs to raise the insurance limits people are required to have when they drive. The $25,000 limit is a joke and pays for nothing. That's not even enough to cover a herniated disc, let alone a broken bone with surgery. And $50,000 for the death of someone - that's so little its pathetic. And, it seems, at least in my experience, the worst drivers are always the drivers with the limited insurance policies. So, in sum, if we cannot prevent car accidents from happening, at least let's ensure that bad drivers have big enough policies so that when they do cause injuries, the families of those injured will be taken care of.

Slip and Fall on Ice and Snow in New York City

Today, the New York Times wrote an article about how ice and snow perpetually covers the sidewalks in New York City, particularly the Bronx, making travel across them extremely hazardous. The article details that the City does not do anything about it. The City maintains that it is the private property owner that is responsible for clearing the sidewalks.
But if the property owner is a dead beat, or in foreclosure, and just doesn't care, basically, the sidewalks will remain icy and there's nothing that can be done. It's a shame and more importantly, it's extremely dangerous. Walking on ice is obviously a challenge and even the nimblest of walkers will unfortunately fall now and again. And, what if you wall, and what if you are injured, what are your options?
Well, in New York City, if you fall on an icy sidewalk, you can sue the property owner. In New York City a property owner is responsible for cleaning snow and ice on their property. A property owner is also responsible for cleaning snow and ice off the sidewalk adjacent to their property. A property owner will be liable to a pedestrian who slips and falls on snow and ice on their property or abutting sidewalks or driveways.
New York City Administrative Code Section 16-123 governs the cleaning of sidewalks and states in part:
§ 16-123 Removal of snow, ice and dirt from sidewalks; property owners' duties.
a. Every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant, or other person, having charge of any building or lot of ground in the city, abutting upon any street where the sidewalk is paved, shall, within four hours after the snow ceases to fall, ... remove the snow or ice, ..., or other material from the sidewalk and gutter, the time between nine post meridian and seven ante meridian not being included in the above period of four hours. Such removal shall be made before the removal of snow or ice from the roadway by the commissioner or subject to the regulations of such commissioner.... In case the snow and ice on the sidewalk shall be frozen so hard that it cannot be removed without injury to the pavement, the owner, lessee, tenant, occupant or other person having charge of any building or lot of ground as aforesaid, may, within the time specified in the preceding subdivision, cause the sidewalk abutting on such premises to be strewed with ashes, sand, sawdust, or some similar suitable material, and shall, as soon thereafter as the weather shall permit, thoroughly clean such sidewalks.
Thus all property owners must clean snow and ice off the sidewalk within four hours after it stops snowing, between the hours of 7 am and 9 pm.
New York Administrative Code Section 7-210 sets forth when property owners will be responsible for failing to clean the sidewalk.
a. It shall be the duty of the owner of real property abutting any sidewalk, including, but not limited to, the intersection quadrant for corner property, to maintain such sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition.
b. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the owner of real property abutting any sidewalk, including, but not limited to, the intersection quadrant for corner property, shall be liable for any injury to property or personal injury, including death, proximately caused by the failure of such owner to maintain such sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition. Failure to maintain such sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition shall include, but not be limited to, the negligent failure to... remove snow, ice, ...or other material from the sidewalk.In short, if the property owner violates the above provisions, you can sue for personal injuries. This would include suing for pain and suffering, medical expense incurred (both in the past and in the future) and any lost wages (past and for the future).
If you have been injured by falling on ice, there are some steps you really need to take to ensure that your lawsuit is as strong as possible.
First, take photos. Photograph everything -- The sidewalks, the streets, the neighboring sidewalks and streets. Videotape it as well. Get close ups. If there was no salt or sand put down, get a close up that shows that.
Second, get the names of any witnesses. This would include anyone that saw you fall or maybe were actually victims themselves. Even if nobody saw you fall, at least get the names and phone numbers of people who came to the scene afterwards and can explain the slippery conditions that existed at the time you fell.
Second, call a lawyer right away. The lawyer will be able to determine the property owner. The lawyer will also be able to go to the scene of the accident and take photos as well. And, if necessary, the lawyer can speak to the witnesses and get affidavits from them, which will help with the formal lawsuit. The attorney can also retain an engineer that can examine the location and help to offer an opinion regarding how the accident occurred. Given the horrible winter we have had this year, I can only imagine how many people have been injured because property owners lack the common courtesy to do what's right and clear the sidewalks.
If you have been hurt falling on snow and ice, call me and we can discuss any claims you may have. We don't charge anything for discussing such claims over the phone. Or email me if you want and I will get back to you as soon as possible at Tcortelli@StolzCortLaw.com.

  • $2.05 Million Settlement Mother of Two Struck and Killed by Motorist

    StolzenbergCortelli LLP recently resolved a heart breaking wrongful death action. The mother of two was struck and killed, while she crossed a roadway.

  • $1.1 Million Settlement StolzenbergCortelli LLP Settles Trip Over Nail Case

    Terrence and Howard settled a trip and fall case for $1,100,000. In this case, our client (a resident of Brooklyn) was a cleaning lady who was hired to clean the newsroom of the Wall Street Journal.

  • $750,000 Verdict Jane and John Doe v. Defendant Driver

    The names are redacted for privacy reasons. In this automobile accident case, the female plaintiff was injured and suffered seriously debilitating injuries.

  • $525,000 Settlement Injured When the Trailer upon which He was Standing Collapsed

    Our client was a teamster, working at a concrete plant in Westchester, when he was seriously injured. At the time, he was standing on a trailer, which is colloquially known as a "low boy", when the wooden slats upon which he was standing, collapsed.

  • $457,500 Settlement Car Accident Victim With Pre-Existing Neck Injury

    Settled a client's case for $457,500. The client suffered a significant cervical spine injury requiring a fusion surgery.He was t-boned by a car exiting Purdy's farmer and the Fish in Somers, New York.

  • $450,000 Settlement StolzenbergCortelli LLP Settles Construction Accident Case

    Howard Stolzenberg settled a case for $450,000 where a construction worker was forced to use an exterior fire escape ladder to access the top of the building all while carrying a one gallon bucket of paint. The worker fell and fractured his ankle.

  • $100,000 Settlement Teenager Hit From Behind

    We just settled a case for a young girl who was injured when she was struck from behind while waiting at a red light at an intersection near the entrance to the Saw Mill in Yonkers. She had hip and shoulder surgery.

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