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Law Offices of Jonathan M. Cooper

New York Noncompete, Trade Secret & School Negligence Blog

This blog by the six-time published author Jonathan Cooper, is intended to educate the general public about issues of interest, particularly innovations and changes in the law, in the areas of non-compete agreements, breach of contract matters, school negligence (and/or negligent supervision), construction accidentsslip and/or trip and fall accidentsauto accidents, and, of course, defective or dangerous products

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9/16/2015
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When Appealing an Awful Decision May Be the Wrong Move

When you get handed a bad decision, you will often have more than one option, explains NY business litigation attorney Jonathan Cooper.

Category: Keyword Search: appeal

7/16/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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In a decision that was handed down on July 7, New York's Appellate Division, First Department (which, as set forth previously, oversees the courts in the Bronx and Manhattan) issued a stark reminder, particularly to those attorneys who practice in the personal injury arena, that before someone's "expert" opinion will be given any deference, it must be shown that this individual has the pertinent training, certifications and familiarity with the relevant laws, rules and regulations in that field.

In this case, Schechter v. 3320 Holding, LLC, the plaintiff sustained serious personal injuries when he opened an elevator door and stepped into an empty elevator shaft. In opposing plaintiff's arguments that the defendant building owner and elevator maintenance company should be deemed automatically liable for this elevator accident, the defendants relied on the testimony of an elevator maintenance employee, who opined that the interlock for the cab door had malfunctioned because both excess mop water and urine had gotten into the interlock, and caused it to stop working. In reversing the lower court's order, the appellate court rejected this argument out of hand, holding that the defendants' employee could not be considered an expert regarding elevator maintenance because he had no formal training or education regarding elevators, and was unfamiliar with the relevant codes and regulations. Although there was a dissenting judge to this opinion, I think the courts should take a more active role in assuring that the parties' experts are indeed appropriately qualified before accepting their opinion or giving it any deference.

Category: Keyword Search: appeal

7/13/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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In an unusual move, an appeals court reinstated a jury's award which had been reduced from $2 million to $600,000, to a pedestrian who was knocked down by a passing truck, causing him to sustain severe personal injuries, including traumatic brain injuries and several fractures that left him in a coma for over one month.

As anyone who has experience selecting juries for trial will tell you, what is not unusual or suprising is that this aspect of the story - the reinstatement of the 7-figure verdict made the news. Nor, for that matter, would it have surprised anyone had the news reported on the jury's verdict; what would have been surprising was if the news had covered the judge's reduction of the award by nearly 2/3 - a fact of trial life that often confronts personal injury lawyers, but rarely - if ever - makes the headlines.

Category: Keyword Search: appeal

7/9/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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NY Appeals Court Whittles Down Claims in Construction Site Accident Lawsuit

In this article, Long Island, NY construction site accident attorney Jonathan Cooper discusses how a New York appeals court dismissed most, but not all, of a worker's personal injury claims because the plaintiff did not prove sufficiently that the defendants had violated specific safety statutes. For additional information on what a plaintiff must prove to win his construction site accident lawsuit under New York law, please visit www.JonathanCooperLaw.com.

Category: Keyword Search: appeal

7/6/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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Recently, a Queens County jury awarded a woman of Chinese-American descent, who claimed that her Flushing, Queens cooperative board had discriminated against her, $225,000. While that verdict, in and of itself, isn't particularly blog-worthy, a closer reading of the jury's finding is: the jury awarded the plaintiff money damages even though they did not believe that the plaintiff had proved that the coop board had been guilty of racism.

Not surprisingly, the coop board has indicated that they intend to appeal this verdict.

This case serves as a useful reminder that a jury's verdict is often unpredictable, and may be internally inconsistent. Consequently, a jury's verdict may not give the parties to the lawsuit the finality that they might otherwise expect; it may only lead to further appeals (and legal bills).

Category: Keyword Search: appeal

4/29/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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In an opinion that was published on April 21, New York's Appellate Division, Second Department upheld a lower court's decision dismissing the personal injury lawsuit of a construction worker who was hurt when the tree stump he was leaning on to maintain his balance broke off, causing him to fall down a slope. While I, like anyone who's been litigating accident cases for a sufficient period of time, have lost some close cases, I find this particular case troubling because I don't see any legitimate reason why the defendants could be deemed liable for this construction site accident. Stated differently, and given the Appellate court's clear and convincing affirmance of the dismissal, I don't think this case should have been brought in the first instance.

As noted in my articles Construction Site Injuries and New York's Labor Laws and Construction Site Accidents: Why the Number of Successful Cases Are Dwindling, in order for a defendant to be held liable under the Labor Laws for a construction worker's personal injuries that were sustained while on the site, the injury must have resulted from an elevation-related risk or safety hazard. That certainly was not the case here. And the plaintiff could not demonstrate that the remaining defendant, Staten Island Railroad Transit Operating Authority (SIRTOA), a subset of the New York City Transit Authority, exercised any ownership or control over the area or tree stump where he fell, as a result of which the plaintiff's negligence claim fell by the wayside as well.

Given that the plaintiff's attorneys went to the time and expense of appealing the lower court's decision, I suspect that the plaintiff's injuries in this case were quite serious, and that they were therefore seduced by the prospect of a big fee. But if you can't conjure up a cogent theory of liability to make it stick, you still shouldn't bring the case.



Category: Keyword Search: appeal

2/5/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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In a case from Orange County in California that was reported yesterday, a jury held the local municipality liable for causing the collision between a car and the teenage boy’s bike, as a result of which the boy sustained serious personal injuries, including the loss of one leg below the knee.  From the news report, it seems fairly clear that the government intends to appeal the jury’s $8 million plus verdict, because from their vantage point, it is manifestly unfair to cast the lion’s share of liability on the municipality when they had no direct role in the bike and car crash; they did not own or operate either the car or the bike.  While, at first blush, the municipality’s argument seems meritorious, if you think a bit more critically, you will realize that their argument contravenes what we know from our everyday, real-world experience.

There are some intersections and streets that have had such a disproportionately high number of tragic car accidents and fatalities over the last several years (such as Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills and Rego Park in Queens County, New York, which the local papers have dubbed the “Boulevard of Death”) that it is clear to all that these roadways are defectively and dangerously designed.  Consequently, the better public policy is to hold the municipalities and states liable for these conditions; otherwise, these governmental entities will have far less incentive to assure the safety of their roads.

For additional information as to whether governmental or municipal authorities are liable for the dangerous conditions of intersections and roadways under New York law, you can read our article here.

Category: Keyword Search: appeal