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settlements and judgments when it isn’t your money
July 16, 2019
WEBINAR NOTICE:  Register now for todays webinar
Title:  What security integrators must know about cybersecurity
Description:  How to generate recurring revenue from cyber security and how to protect you and your customer from liability
When:  July 16, 2019  12 -1 PM EST
Hosted By: Ken Kirschenbaum, Esq.
Presented by: Darnell Washington
Who should attend: Alarm company owners and general managers
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settlements and judgments when it isn’t your money
            A home health aide visited an apartment, entering the building through an unlocked rear door, something she had done many times.  She knew that the door was always unlocked and she knew that everyone else knew it too.  This time she was beaten by an intruder who also entered through the same unlocked door.  The injured aide sues the intruder [who defaulted in the action – he was caught and imprisoned for the dirty deed] and the New York City Housing Authority, who managed the building.
            The accepted facts were that the unlocked door was commonly known to be unlocked and commonly used by all.  The Housing Authority was sued for negligently and adequately securing the premises, creating the dangerous condition and facilitating the illegal attack. 
            Before trial the case was settled.  The Housing Authority agreed to pay 1 million and its insurance carrier agreed to pay 1.5 million; 2.5 million total.  Why not, it’s not their money.
            It’s often said, you never know what a jury will do.  They can give away lots of money.  Why not, it’s not their money.  All this talk about millions and billions for this or that; lawyers asking for outrageous amounts of money for injured clients, more than they could earn in 100 of their lifetimes.  The aide in this case was severely injured and could easily have obtained an award of this size from a judge or a jury.  That no doubt caused the defense attorneys to encourage a settlement; prior to trial. 
            The problem I am having with this case is that while the extensive injuries claimed would support the settlement, I am not so sure the law would.  What duty did the property owner or operator owe to this injured plaintiff?  What risks did she assume by using the rear door or entering premises she believed to be unsafe?  Building owners in NYC [and elsewhere] are required to keep premises safe, especially in dangerous areas, but in this building the tenants customarily propped the door open to defeat the lock.  The plaintiff claimed the owners should have had other security measures, such as cameras and guards.
            I may be unjustly criticizing how the case was defended and then settled, but there is no mention of any motion to dismiss the case based on the law.  Lack of duty should have been tested before someone else’s money was used to settle.
            It would be foolish to not care what your insurance carrier pays out on your claims.  The carrier will either drop you or raise your premiums.  Other carriers will similarly penalize you in premium rates.  Think of the money as yours, then consider how much you want to spend in a settlement.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301