On April 30, 2016, Gabriel Suarez sustained a hip injury when he tripped and fell over a roadway speed bump while running on Roosevelt Avenue, a private road in Southampton, near where he’d recently bought a weekend home.
Mr. Suarez, then a 49 year old Manhattan resident, sued the adjoining homeowners claiming that they failed to maintain the road in front of their home in a safe manner.
The Manhattan jury determined that both parties were at fault for the accident – defendants 40% and plaintiff 60% and they assessed pain and suffering damages in the sum of $250,000 ($50,000 past – five years, $200,000 future – 24 years). They also added $37,500 to the award representing the stipulated cost of future surgery. The total $287,500 award to plaintiff was reduced to $115,000 after applying the percentages of comparative fault.
In a post-trial motion, plaintiff argued that the jurors were confused about the apportionment process and that they intended plaintiff should received $287,500 instead of only 40% of that amount. Plaintiff also argued that even the full $250,000 for pain and suffering damages would represent an inadequate amount. The trial judge granted the motion to the extent that he ordered a new trial on the issue of damages.
Defendants appealed and in Suarez v. Ades (1st Dept 2023), the appellate court reversed the trial judge’s order and directed that judgment be entered in conformity with the verdict sheet and stipulated medical expenses.
Plaintiff sustained a comminuted fracture of his acetabulum requiring open reduction internal fixation surgery with a plate, screws and bone grafting. His medical expert opined that the injury is permanent and he has a high probability of needing future hip replacement surgery.
The defendants’ experts opined that plaintiff’s injuries had resolved prior to trial and the jury was shown video and still photographs of plaintiff paddle boarding and windsurfing. The appellate judges noted that plaintiff admitted he was able to run and engage in whatever activities he wanted since 2016.