Thomas Jaffa Secures Dual Victories in GL Motion Practice

June 16, 2016

Associate Thomas Jaffa has recently produced two very favorable decisions in two separate actions.

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In the first action, venued in Bronx County, plaintiff seeks monetary damages for personal injuries sustain when he was allegedly caused to slip and fall on an allegedly defective and dangerous set of stairs located at the premises owned by the client. Subsequent to the alleged incident, the stairs were repaired.

Plaintiff sought an order striking the client’s answer as a penalty for having willfully destroyed certain evidence after the action had been commenced.

Plaintiff first demanded a site inspection thirteen months after the alleged incident and seven months after service was completed on the client. Prior to that demand, plaintiff did not request a litigation hold preserving the stairs for the purposes of a later inspection.

Plaintiff contended that the receipt of the summons and complaint was sufficient notice to require that the client preserve the staircase. The first court order to mention a site inspection is three months after the demand was made. By that time, the stairs had already been repaired.

Associate Thomas P. Jaffa and Partner Neil C. Mascolo were able to craft a successful argument refuting all of plaintiff’s arguments. The Court held that the drastic action of striking the answer is not warranted. It could not be said that there was an intentional delay of the site inspection to make renovations. In fact, the repairs were made prior to any preservation request and there was a legitimate reason to make the repairs.

Based on Mr. Jaffa and Mr. Mascolo’s arguments, the plaintiff was unable to show that his ability to prosecute his claims have been prejudiced. Plaintiff’s motion was denied in entirety.

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In another case venued in Nassau County, Plaintiff alleged that she was injured when an unsecured portion of a desk in her high school’s attendance office was caused to fall and land on her foot. Plaintiff sustained a fracture. The school was undergoing significant renovations at the time.

Our client was the construction manager, hired by the school district to oversee the project. The client did not act as the general contractor nor did it hire subcontractors to perform the work.

At the time of the accident, the unsecured desk portion was not in the location as designated by the construction plans. The school’s assistant principal did not like the layout according to the plans and requested that the location be changed. This request was denied by our client. Unbeknownst to the client, the assistant principal had the installation subcontractor place the desk in the desired location so he could observe how it looked.  It was not secured to either the wall or the floor.  Our client was not informed of this action.

On the first day of school, the office was not closed. The school posted no warning regarding the unsecured desk. The assistant principal understood the desk was not secured and was aware the piece was in a vulnerable position.

Thomas P. Jaffa crafted a successful argument that demonstrated the client lacked both actual notice and constructive notice; that the client did not create the alleged condition; and that the client did not have a duty to warn the plaintiff as it was not on notice of the alleged condition prior to the accident.

In a decision dated May 24, 2016, the court granted the motion for summary judgment in its entirety. The Court found that a prima facie case for summary judgment was established through Mr. Jaffa’s papers.  The opposition of the plaintiff and the subcontractor were not sufficient to raise a triable issue of fact.

* Attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.