NY Appeals Court Affirms Massive Award for Injured Bus Rider

In 2013, Lusia Reinoso, a home health aide, was helping a patient operate their wheelchair on an MTA bus ramp when the ramp suddenly activated, throwing Ms. Reinoso onto the sidewalk. Ms. Reinoso suffered injuries to her knee, shoulder, spine, and hip.

At trial, the jury found the bus operator solely responsible for those injuries. The jury awarded Ms. Reinoso over $10.5 million in damages – including $5,319,000 for pain and suffering, and $5,000,000 for medical expenses.

On appeal, both sides challenged the amount of the jury award. The judge ultimately reduced the total pain and suffering award to $4,100,000. Defendants appealed again, arguing that there should be a new trial on damages because Ms. Reinoso should not have been allowed to call a specific rebuttal witness, and because the medical expenses award of $5,000,000 was excessive.

Earlier this month, the First Department released its decision. See 2022 NY Slip Op 02242. The Court found first, that Ms. Reinoso had the right to call her treating radiologist as a rebuttal witness to impeach or discredit testimony from any defense witnesses, even if the radiologist did not testify in Ms. Reinoso’s case in chief. Second, the Court agreed with defendant’s contention that the medical expenses award was excessive, and reduced it from $5,000,000 to $3,598,706.20, bringing Ms. Reinoso’s total damages to $7,879,706.20.

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