A Bronx jury awarded $20,000,000.00 to our client, a 10-year-old girl dropped downstairs out of her stroller by a security guard in the building where she lived with her mother. Rheingold, Giuffra, Ruffo & Plotkin LLP LLP, Partner Thomas Giuffra, was trial counsel for the family and obtained the verdict after a three-week trial.
The child, Imani Santiago was just four days old and was being carried in a stroller by a security guard at a shelter in the Bronx. Because the stroller was heavy, the security guard jerked the stroller to get a better grip. To the horror of her mother, Jeninlee Reyes, following just steps behind, Imani fell out of the stroller, landing headfirst on the concrete steps. After Imani proceeded to roll down three more steps, her hysterical mother scooped her up and rushed her to Jacobi Hospital.
At Jacobi, a CT scan was performed which demonstrated a bleed to the surface of the baby’s brain. After 36 hours, the baby was discharged from the hospital, with her parents praying that their daughter’s bleed was nothing to worry about. Only time could tell. Unfortunately, as soon as Imani started going to school, it became evident that she was having difficulties learning. She was just starting out and was already so far behind. That’s when the family retained a lawyer.
On June 26, 2013, exactly 10 years after the fall, Thomas Giuffra commenced the Trial in the Bronx Supreme Court, before the Honorable Mary Ann Brigantti-Hughes, J.S.C. The Jury would hear testimony from Imani’s teachers from the last three years and learned that while Imani tries hard in school, she “just can’t get it”, and was significantly delayed in her abilities. The Jury learned from Plaintiff’s neurologist and neuropsychologist that the brain bleed was the cause of her problems. These experts specifically noted that the particular area of the brain bleed was responsible for the specific deficits that Imani exhibited, while the rest of Imani’s brain appeared to be functioning normally. The Jury was also given estimates by an expert regarding the loss in earnings that she would sustain as a result.
The Defense lined up a team of experts to challenge Imani’s case and offered numerous alternative theories to explain Imani’s delays. The Defense even tried arguing that the security guard should never have been carrying up the stroller in the first place and therefore argued that his employer should not be on the hook for his negligence.
The Jury apparently saw right through the Defense’s efforts at avoiding responsibility. After less than an hour of deliberations, the Jury emphatically returned a unanimous verdict finding that the security guard was in fact acting on behalf of his employer and that Imani’s injuries were caused by her tragic fall. The Jury then awarded Imani the total sum of $20,000,000.