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$150,000 Trip On Protruding Nail

The plaintiff, a 76 year-old retired attorney was walking beneath a sidewalk bridge on East 81st Street where he turned to cross the street. As he stepped towards the curb, his foot caught on a nail that slightly protruded from the side of the wooden block, (known as mudsill), that formed the footing to the upright post of the sidewalk bridge. As a result, he tripped, fell and fractured his patella (kneecap). Surgery was performed to remove the bottom piece of the patella and to align the rest of it; then, he underwent physical therapy for about three months. Although the condition which plaintiff complained about was admittedly small, we argued that its location, lined up with a pedestrian crosswalk, made it particularly dangerous. Suit was brought against the building owner, its general contractor, and its sub-contractor for the sidewalk bridge, and it eventually proceeded to mediation. Documents and witnesses proved that this condition had existed for a long period of time but had gone unrepaired. Also, an inspection report from the general contractor’s foreman showed that the bridge had been inspected that day but that the condition was not noted on the inspection sheet. At the mediation the case settled for $150,000.