A record-setting jury $6.1 million pain-and-suffering award in an ankle fracture suit was upheld by an Appellate Division, First Department panel on Thursday.
The plaintiff, Aminata Kromah, also saw her total verdict of $10.4 million upheld by the appellate panel, the largest amount sustained by the First Department outside an amputation or brain damage case, according to Kromah’s trial attorney, Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman partner Marc Eli Freund.
“It’s been a long fight for Mrs. Kromah,” Freund told the Law Journal, noting that the case began six years ago. The accident occurred in 2013, when Kromah, who was in her early 30s, fell down a set of stairs, doing significant damage to her ankle and legs.
The award was needed to provide her with the quality medical care she’ll need going forward, Freund said, as she’s without health insurance.
On appeal, the panel of Justices Dianne Renwick, Sallie Manzanet-Daniels, Jeffrey Oing, and Peter Moulton sided not only with Bronx Supreme Court Justice James Hubert Jr. on the award, but on actions during jury deliberations called into question by the appellants, Langsam Property Service.
Langsam argued it was prejudiced by Hubert's decision to recall the jury an hour into deliberations to instruct it about considering evidence toward a violation of New York City administrative law.
The panel found Hubert's decision was not prejudicial, as it was simply a reiteration of the original instructions about Langsam’s duty to maintain the stairwell. Hubert, the panel noted, instructed the jury that it was a supplement, not a change or modification to the original instructions.
To the damages, Langsam argued they deviated from reasonable compensation for a plaintiff. Specifically, it objected to the award for future medical expenses because there was no evidence Kromah would need specific future, costly pain management techniques, as well as other potentially unnecessary treatments.
The panel agreed regarding one aspect of future medical care, radiofrequency sympathectomy, but declined to adjust the award based on the appellant's additional arguments.
Cozen O’Connor member Eric Berger represented Langsam on appeal. He did not respond to a request for comment.
Pollack, Pollack, Isaac & DeCicco name attorney Brian Issac represented Kromah before the First Department.
The suit was Kromah v. 2265 Davidson Realty, 8381 303791/13.