Despina Papadakis v. City of New York

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Case Name

Despina Papadakis v. City of New York

Type of Injury



cleaning woman


Bronx, NY


$680,000 (6/0). Breakdown: $150,000 for past pain and suffering; $250,000 for future pain and suffering; $126,000 for past lost earnings; $154,000 for future lost earnings. Jury: 3 male, 3 female.

Verdict Amount


Case Details


Despina Papadakis v. City of New York 14702 6-day trial Verdict 5/4/94 Post-trial decision 9/14/94 Judge Gerald Crispino, Bronx Supreme

VERDICT: $680,000 (6/0). Breakdown: $150,000 for past pain and suffering; $250,000 for future pain and suffering; $126,000 for past lost earnings; $154,000 for future lost earnings. Jury: 3 male, 3 female.

In a 9-page decision dated 9/14/94, Judge Crispino reduced the awards for past and future pain and suffering as excessive to $75,000 and $125, 000, respectively, for a total award of $480,000. See below.

Pltf. Atty: Steven Wildstein, Great Neck

Deft. Atty: Steven M. Koulish, Asst. Corp. Counsel

Facts: Pltf., a 59-year-old cleaning woman, testified that on 1/8/89 at 6:15 PM, she slipped on a raised section of sidewalk on the east side of Broadway between West 259th and West 260th Sts. in the Bronx. Pltf., who spoke Greek, testified through a translator. Pltf. contended that Deft. had actual notice of the defect and produced a witness from the Dept. of Transportation who testified that Deft. received actual written notice of the defect from the Big Apple Corp. on 9/8/88, 4 months before the accident. Deft. contended that Pltf., who lived a block from the site of the accident, should have known that the defect existed and should have seen it on the night in question because the sidewalk was illuminated by streetlights. Deft. argued that Pltf. was comparatively negligent for failing to watch where she was walking. The jury found that Pltf. was comparatively negligent, but found that her negligence was not a cause of her injury.

Injuries: fracture and dislocation of the left (nondominant) shoulder; tear of the left rotator cuff. Pltf. did not have surgery for the fractured shoulder, but did have an operation 1 year after the accident to repair the torn rotator cuff. She was out of work for 3 months. Pltf. testified that she worked intermittently for a year after the accident but eventually had to retire because of her injuries. She testified that she would have worked until age 69 if she had not been injured. Deft. argued that Pltf. would have been forced to retire much earlier than age 69 due to other illnesses, as noted in her extensive employment health records. Specials: $25,000 per year for 10 years for lost earnings. Offer: $50,000; demand: $200,000; amount asked of jury: $900,000. Jury deliberation: 5 hours. Pltf. Experts: Dr. Stephen Ringel, orth. surg., Bronx (moved to Texas by the time of trial); Edmond Provder, vocational rehabilitation, Manhattan. There was no expert testimony for Deft.

The City moved to set aside the verdicts, arguing that the jury’s finding of lack of proximate cause along with a finding of her comparative negligence was contrary to the weight of the evidence. Deft. also argued that the jury’s finding that Pltf. would have worked another 10 years, until age 69, was against the weight of the evidence. In his written post- trial decision, Judge Crispino found that because her retirement was precipitated by the accident, Pltf. is entitled to an award for lost earnings beyond the actual date that she retired, and he denied Deft.’s motion on that issue. He also noted that “the jury was properly instructed that negligence in the absence of proximate cause will not give rise to damages.” Decision at p. 6. The court did find, however, that the $150,000 award for past pain and suffering and the $250,000 award for future pain and suffering were excessive, and reduced them by half to $75, 000 and $125,000, respectively