Law Offices of Ronald C. Burke



Superintendent Hoses Down Sidewalk in Freezing Temperatures-Interested Witness v Disinterested Witness

In a decision dated June 16, 2016, the Appellate Division, First Department agreed with Ron Burke, counsel to Jenise Jett, that she was entitled to a new trial because the Trial Court did not properly instruct the jury on legal principles concerning how they should evaluate the testimony of witnesses. Ms. Jett had slipped and fell on an icy sidewalk in front of a building maintained by the City of New York. As a result, the plaintiff fractured her ankle which led to her developing traumatic osteoarthritis. A "disinterested witness" employed as a porter at a building near the accident site testified that he saw the defendant's building superintendent hosing down the sidewalk minutes before plaintiff's accident, which immediately created an icy condition in front of only one building on the entire block. The former building superintendent testified at trial and denied he would have done something so dangerous and stupid as to hose down a sidewalk in freezing temperatures.

Because the formerly employed superintendent had a motive to skew his testimony to defend his own conduct, the plaintiff was entitled to have the trial Judge instruct the jury that he should be considered to be interested in the outcome of the case with just as much motive to shade his testimony as a party plaintiff or defendant. The Court instructed the jury that Jenise Jett was an interested witness. The Trial Court refused to instruct the jury, as requested by Mr. Burke, that a superintendent (even one no longer employed by the defendant) who allegedly used a garden hose to wash off a sidewalk in below freezing temperatures was also an "interested witness". The Trial Court agreed with the attorney for the City of New York that since the former superintendent was no longer employed by the defendant at the time of trial, he was not a witness with an interest in the outcome of the case. The Appellate Court reversed the trial court finding that: "As a former employee of a party and participant in the accident, who was charged with creating an icy condition by hosing down the sidewalk on a freezing day, the former superintendent was an interested witness....Given the pivotal role that the witness's testimony played in the defendant's case, which pitted his reliability against that of an alleged eyewitness, the error was not harmless." Jenise Jett v City of New York, Appellate Division, First Department, New York.

Ronald C. Burke, Esq

Trial Attorney with 30+ Years of Experience Attorney Ronald C. Burke, Esq. has more than 30 years of experience and has focused his career on representing clients in cases involving personal injury, medical malpractice and legal malpractice. He is a seasoned trial lawyer and has won many seven-figure settlements and verdicts for his clients over the years, including many case victories listed among the largest in the history of the New York State. He has been featured in the news and is a regular lecturer for the New York County Lawyers Association, as well as having lectured before the New York State Bar Association. Ron is also an attorney with Kelner & Kelner, a New York personal injury law firm. Awards and Accolades Mr. Burke's awards and accolades are many. Among them, he has been included in New York Super Lawyers® each year since 2010, and he has received the highest-possible AV® Rating from Martindale-Hubbell®. Verdict Search, a part of the New York Law Journal, frequently recognizes his notable successes after winning some of the highest settlements and verdicts in past years. He was also featured in their list of the "Top New York Verdicts " and "Top New York Settlements." He is a member of the New York State Bar Association and is licensed to practice law in the U.S. District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, as well as before the United States Supreme Court. When Attorney Burke is not handling legal malpractice cases, he is highly involved in the local community. He was a member of the Village of Rockville Centre Volunteer Fire Department, has served on the local school board and as Chairman of the local Zoning Board. Learn more about Attorney Burke and how he can skillfully handle your malpractice case by contacting the Law Offices of Ronald C. Burke, Esq. right away to schedule your complimentary case evaluation. Our firm is here to help! Contact a New York Legal Malpractice Attorney Our firm provides each client's case with thorough preparation and aggressive representation, ensuring that you win the best possible results for your case whether it is settled or goes to trial. As a seasoned trial lawyer, Mr. Burke can provide the strong and relentless representation you need to establish negligence in a legal malpractice case and to recover any damages you may have suffered. Our firm can recover compensation for pre-trial and trial malpractice, violations of fee arrangements, loss of income, pain and suffering, and much more. Contact us today!


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