This case, just decided by a jury and reported in today’s Daily News, offers a number of general lessons about lawsuits.
Michael Steinberg, the plaintiff, was in a subway station when he was attacked by a man wielding power saws that had been left unguarded in the station by a company doing work there.
The man who attacked him plead guilty and is in prison.
Mr. Steinberg sued because the power saws were left available to the obviously unbalanced man who without provocation had attacked him.
The company, Five Star Electric Corp., was found by the jury to be 75% at fault for the attack; the attacker was found to be 25% at fault. I’ve mentioned this division of fault previously, when I talked about the Jury Verdict Reporter. This lawyers’ resource, older editions of which you can find in the New York Public Library (and presumably other libraries), reports that fault — such as in a personal injury case — is quantified by a jury by percentage.
Mr. Steinberg was not faulted for the attack. He hadn’t been negligent in any way.
Another lesson: the attack took place in 2006, the attacker plead guilty a year later, but it’s taken this long for the case against the contractor to go to trial and verdict. Mr. Steinberg said, “I don’t believe I won…It took seven years for justice to be served.” That’s how long cases can take.
Yet another lesson: Mr. Steinberg had not asked the jury for specific financial damages. His lawyer will be negotiating a settlement amount. I think this is strategic: if the jury has not been asked to assess monetary damages, the company found liable has limited (or maybe no) appellate issues that could delay a result for several more years.
The contractor had offered $40,000 to settle, but “then took it off the table during the trial…”
“Edward Steinberg, a veteran lawyer not related to Michael Steinberg, estimated the award for such a case would be in the $500,000 range.”
Mr. Steinberg’s lawyer was Ronald Landau.