Jury Tells Transit Agency to Pay Woman $16 Million

, New York Law Journal

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A Bronx woman who suffered severe brain damage after falling on a landing in a subway station was awarded $16 million by a jury last week.

Maria Alcantara, a 69-year-old native of the Dominican Republic and mother of two, fell on a landing in the Graham Ave. subway stop in Brooklyn on Dec. 12, 2008. She was leaving from a job at a packing plant where she had worked for 18 years. She suffered a broken hip and bleeding in her brain, and was hospitalized for several days.

Following the accident, she began suffering seizures and loss of motor control. She is now confined to a wheelchair, unable to speak, and can only communicate by moving her hand, according to her attorney, Brad Kauffman.

In October 2008, just two months before the accident, the New York City Transit Authority documented a gouge in the landing where Alcantara fell. Later NYCTA records conflict on whether the defect was repaired at the time of the accident, but NYCTA maintained that it had been repaired, according to Kauffman.

However, Kauffman said that presented evidence, including photographs, showing that the defect was not fixed. The jury ultimately found the transit authority 100 percent liable for the accident.

NYCTA was represented by Antonia Scirerra of Venterina & Sciretta and by Alfred Odom, an associate at that firm.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, NYCTA's parent organization, declined to comment.

The case is Alcantara v. NYCTA, 9976/09, in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

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