Robert Dunn v. City of New York

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Case Name

Robert Dunn v. City of New York

Type of Injury



telephone company field technician


Queens, NY


$46,377,823, reduced to $22,261,355 for 52% comparative negligence of Pltf. (6/0). Breakdown: $5,000,000 for past pain and suffering; $20,000,000 for future pain and suffering ( 41 years)?

Verdict Amount


Case Details


Robert Dunn v. City of New York 12977/92 2-week liability trial Verdict 6/27/00; 4-day damages trial Verdict 8/25/00 Queens Supreme

Judge: Joseph G. Golia

Verdict: $46,377,823, reduced to $22,261,355 for 52% comparative negligence of Pltf. (6/0). Breakdown: $5,000,000 for past pain and suffering; $20,000,000 for future pain and suffering ( 41 years); $2,000,000 for past lost earnings; $5,500,000 for future lost earnings (32 years); $687,580 for past medical expenses ( stipulated); $13,190,243 for future medical expenses (41 years).

Liability: Pltf. 52%; Deft. 48% negligent. Jury: 1 male, 5 female. A post-trial motion is pending.

Pltf. Atty: Brian O Leary and Steven W. O Leary, Sr. of O Leary & O Leary, Garden City

Deft. Atty: William J. Faye and Elizabeth Gross, Asst. Corp. Counsel

Facts: On 6/25/91, Pltf., a 23-year-old telephone company field technician, suffered severe injuries in a motorcycle accident that occurred on 39th Ave. at its intersection with 204 St. in Bayside. Pltf. was traveling westbound and there was a curve in the roadway. Pltf. contended that an eastbound car traveled into the westbound lane, forcing him to turn left, toward eastbound traffic. He lost control of his motorcycle, which overturned and slid across the road onto the opposite sidewalk.

Pltf. claimed that the road was negligently designed in that it contained a dangerous curve. He contended that Deft. was negligent for failing to conduct surveys of the area after receiving complaints of numerous accidents and property damage to the local homes. He also claimed that Deft. negligently posted a sign that indicated a left curve when the curve was actually a left-right curve. There were also no yellow street markings separating the two lanes of opposing traffic. Pltf. contended that this condition created a pattern of traffic whereby eastbound vehicles traveled into the westbound lane. Deft. argued that this was a one-vehicle accident and that no eastbound car was involved. It claimed that Pltf. was traveling too fast for the area and that he turned too late. Deft. s accident reconstruction expert testified that his analysis of the scrape marks revealed that Pltf. was traveling 32 mph around the curve, which had a speed advisory of 20 mph.

Injuries: quadriplegia. Pltf. was hospitalized for 6 weeks. He was then transferred to a rehabilitation facility in Denver, Colorado, where he remained for 6 months. Pltf. currently lives with his mother, and he requires a home attendant 12 hours per day. He also receives nursing care twice a week. Pltf. s neurosurgeon testified that Pltf. has developed several conditions related to his injury, including bedsores, spasticity, neurogenic bladder, and severe low back pain. Pltf. has been hospitalized several times since the accident for treatment of severe low back pain. Pltf. claimed that he can no longer work, and his vocational rehabilitation expert testified that he will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life. Pltf. called Deft. s physical and rehabilitative medicine expert by subpoena, who testified that Pltf. will require physical therapy to control the spasticity. He testified, however, that Pltf. could work in some capacity. Demonstrative evidence: survey; New York City topographical map; aerial photographs of the intersection; left curve sign; left-right curve sign; economic chart; diagram of the cervical spine; illustrations of daily activities Pltf. can no longer perform; Day in the Life video. No offer; demand: $15,000, 000. Jury deliberation: 2? hours on liability; 2? hours on damages.

Pltf. Experts: Marvin Spector, P.E., engineer, Hawthorne; Dr. Mitchell Levine, neurosurgeon, Woodmere; Edmond Provder, vocational rehabilitation, Manhattan; Dr. Bruce Grynbaum, physical and rehabilitative medicine, Manhattan (Deft. s expert, called by Pltf. by subpoena), Conrad Berenson, Ph.D., economist, Woodbury.

Deft. Expert: C. Bruce Gambardella, accident reconstruction, Spring Valley.