CONWAY v. NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.

Daniel CONWAY, respondent, v. NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY, appellant.

Decided: October 27, 2009

MARK C. DILLON, J.P., THOMAS A. DICKERSON, PLUMMER E. LOTT, and LEONARD B. AUSTIN, JJ. Wallace D. Gossett, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Lawrence Heisler and Anita Isola of counsel), for appellant. Caryl B. Rossner (Sonkin, Fifer & Gershon, New York, N.Y. [Howard Fifer], of counsel), for respondent.

In an action to recover damages for personal injuries, the defendant appeals from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Queens County (Rosengarten, J.), dated March 3, 2008, which, upon a jury verdict against it on the issue of liability, and finding that the plaintiff, inter alia, sustained damages in the principal sums of $200,000 for past pain and suffering and $800,000 for future pain and suffering, is in favor of the plaintiff and against it.

ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed, with costs.

The 26-year-old plaintiff fractured both ankles on January 8, 2003, when he slipped on the second highest step on a stairway at a subway station in Woodside, Queens, and fell down the stairs.   The plaintiff was transported by ambulance to a hospital, where he received emergency treatment.   In the days following the accident, he sought additional medical care from other providers.   Approximately two weeks after the accident, the plaintiff underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair the fractures and remove the cartilage that had separated from the bone.

Following a bifurcated trial on the issue of liability, the jury found, inter alia, that the stairway was not reasonably safe and that the defendant's failure to maintain the stairway was a proximate cause of the accident.   After the trial on the issue of damages, the jury found that the plaintiff, inter alia, sustained damages in the principal sums of $200,000 for past pain and suffering and $800,000 for future pain and suffering.

 The witnesses' testimony presented issues of credibility that the jury was in the best position to resolve, based on its opportunity to assess the witnesses (see Solon v. Voziianov, 56 A.D.3d 654, 869 N.Y.S.2d 121;  Fryer v. Maimonides Med. Ctr., 31 A.D.3d 604, 605, 818 N.Y.S.2d 607;  Crockett v. Long Beach Med. Ctr., 15 A.D.3d 606, 607, 790 N.Y.S.2d 227).   A valid line of reasoning existed which could lead rational persons to the jury's conclusion that the defendant was liable for the plaintiff's injuries (see Cohen v. Hallmark Cards, 45 N.Y.2d 493, 499, 410 N.Y.S.2d 282, 382 N.E.2d 1145;  Nicastro v. Park, 113 A.D.2d 129, 495 N.Y.S.2d 184), and its verdict was supported by a fair interpretation of the evidence (cf. Solon v. Voziianov, 56 A.D.3d 654, 869 N.Y.S.2d 121;  Stylianou v. Calabrese, 297 A.D.2d at 799, 748 N.Y.S.2d 36).

 Contrary to the defendant's contention, the jury's awards for past and future pain and suffering did not deviate materially from what would be considered reasonable compensation (see CPLR 5501[c];  Pryce v. County of Suffolk, 55 A.D.3d 894, 866 N.Y.S.2d 354;  Crockett v. Long Beach Med. Ctr., 15 A.D.3d 606, 790 N.Y.S.2d 227;  Stylianou v. Calabrese, 297 A.D.2d 798, 799, 748 N.Y.S.2d 36).

The defendant's remaining contentions are without merit.

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