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Summary Jury Trials: Justice or Just Fast?

Human tendency is to want immediately everything that can be obtained immediately. We like one hour photo-labs, microwave ovens, overnight mail, same day dry cleaning, and fast food. Well, as proof that the wheels of justice don’t always turn slowly, our beloved court system has developed the summary jury trial also referred to as the “SJT.” An SJT is an alternative dispute resolution technique that has been around for years but is now gaining increasing use around the country and certainly in New York. It is a break from the regular trial system and can afford a litigant several benefits.

The particular technique of which I have had personal involvement has been the “Binding SJT” in which the parties try the case to a binding verdict rather than simply engaging in a non binding mock trial. The binding SJT’s are generally one or two days in length. The parties stipulate as a prerequisite that each litigant will be bound by the jury’s verdict. The right to move to set aside the verdict may be waived or strictly limited to instances where, for example, fraud was used to obtain the verdict, or there is an error of law that occurred during the trial, or a miscalculation of figures occurred.

The first day of the trial is generally used as an evidentiary hearing for purposes of determining which documents and witnesses the jury will learn about and/or hear from during then trial. Related medical treatment records as well as the plaintiff’s and defendant’s expert medical reports are usually stipulated to be admissible. This generally saves money for the both the plaintiffs and defendants. Day two consists of jury selection and the trial. The presentation of evidence and arguments made by the attorneys are governed by strictly enforced time limits to ensure that the entire case is presented and the jury gets the case the same day for deliberation.

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New York City Transit Authority and City of New York Sued by Stranded Passengers

The effects of the blizzard of 2010 are finally ending but not for the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) or the City of New York. Hundreds of passengers were stranded for several hours on trains that never should have left the station. THERESA JUVA of amNewYork, who spoke with passengers on a stranded train … Read more

Technology: Friend or Foe to New York Personal Injury Attorneys and their Clients?

In September 2010, Nebraska State created an iPhone application that allows realtime searching of its court dockets by date, time, and location. Although it appears the app has its share of kinks to work out, such a tool could be a useful aid to attorneys in all states who need to obtain reliable information when … Read more

Bronx School Stabbing Results in Serious Injuries

The New York City Board of Education is supposed to provide a safe environment for our children to learn. Unfortunately, some schools fail in this respect, and students are being attacked while attending school. Parents have the right to send their children to school and expect them to come home unharmed. As recently reported in … Read more

Overcrowded New York Clinics and Emergency Rooms Cause Serious Delays in Diagnosis and Treatment of Medical Conditions.

As one of the first legislative agendas the U. S. Congress will attempt to repeal the recently enacted National Health Care Reform Act. Despite all of the negative hype this legislation has generated and whether or not you are for or against the present Health Care Bill the need for a major overhaul of the … Read more

New York Apartment Burn Injuries: When is the Hot Water in Your Apartment Too Hot?

Approximately 45,000 Americans are hospitalized each year for the treatment of severe burns, according to the American Burn Association. Tap water scalding injuries have been cited as the most common cause of serious burn injuries, especially among children. The results of a burn can be extremely painful and expensive to treat. For many people, they require admission into specialized burn units of hospitals, as well as prolonged and costly medical care.

Burn injuries can be especially problematic because they are slow to heal, may require surgery (skin grafts, debridement or reconstruction surgery), prone to infection and leave permanent scarring (keloid scars or contracture scars) and disfigurement. There are different levels of burn injuries, consisting of 1st degree, 2nd degree and 3rd degree burns. Both 2nd and 3rd degree burns can be caused by exposure to scalding hot water for mere seconds.

Examples of accidents that cause scalding injuries include (1) defective hot water faucets; (2) sudden and unexpected scalding hot water from the tap; (3) defective boilers and (4) poorly maintained boilers and hot water heating systems.

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Preparing For Trial: Bio Mechanical Breakdown

Biomechanics is the study of how physical forces affect and influence living organisms. It is said to combine mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology. Experts in this field have served in personal injury cases in a variety of factual scenarios including trips and falls and most predominantly now in motor vehicle cases. This entry was prompted by a recent article published in the New York State Bar Association Journal November/December 2010 edition titled The Rise of Biomechanical Experts at Trial which discusses and promotes the increase in the use of biomechanical engineers by defense attorneys in defending automobile cases.

Although the article we reference highlights the trend of retaining experts of this type specifically at the time of an impending jury trial, we note that the warning signs of the involvement of such experts are appearing earlier in the litigation. Within the last 8 months I received pre-suit correspondence from adjusters claiming that the soft tissue injuries claimed by my client were not causally related to the subject low impact collision “from a biomechanical standpoint.” Some plaintiff’s attorneys have reported that they have received reports from defendant’s biomechanical engineer as exhibits in summary judgment motions on the serious injury threshold question served upon completion of depositions. The purpose of the expert disclosures in the motions and trial testimony by the expert is the same. The expert is retained to argue that the injury producing mechanisms were not present in the accident. That is to say, the forces exerted upon the injured body parts were not of a sufficient magnitude to cause the injury alleged by the plaintiff based upon the expert’s knowledge of human anatomy and a mathematical assessment of the forces involved in the collision.

For the injured plaintiff and her attorney this is just one more obstacle to consider in the quest for justice. It would seem that there would be no rise in the use of biomechanical engineers if the use of same did not create a benefit to defense counsel and yet it begs the question: Is it the expert or is it the case?

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New York Hotels Affected by Safety Recall of all Drop-Side Cribs

The New York products liability attorneys at our firm are always monitoring the changes in laws affecting those who are injured. We follow the changes in many areas including those that affect the safety of our children. At home and while traveling, nothing comes before ensuring that our young children are protected. For many years, … Read more