After a bifurcated trial on the issue of liability in this claim, in a decision
dated July 10, 2002, I held the State liable for Claimant's fall due to a defect
in a sidewalk (a raised slab) at Groveland Correctional Facility (Groveland). I
directed the entry of an interlocutory judgment and this decision follows the
trial on damages.
Claimant was injured on October 22, 1995, at approximately 3:00 p.m. at
Groveland when he fell down. He immediately felt pain in his right upper thigh
and was taken to the Groveland infirmary, where, after a two hour wait, he was
given medication for pain. Thereafter, he was taken by ambulance to the Noyes
Memorial Hospital in Dansville, New York, for additional pain medication. His
trip by ambulance continued and he was then transported to the Erie County
Medical Center (ECMC) where he was admitted. He experienced severe pain and
discomfort during this travel.
At ECMC, x-rays were taken and Claimant was diagnosed with a spiral fracture of
the right proximal femur. Open reduction surgery was performed for internal
fixation with a cerclage wire and an intramedullary nail or rod was inserted.
The surgery was performed on October 23, 1995. The operative
explains the details of this procedure for the placement of an intramedullary
nail with locking screws. Claimant was discharged from ECMC on October 30,
1995, and was returned to Groveland where he remained housed in the infirmary
until the end of November. At trial, Claimant recounted his excruciating pain
and physical limitations due to the injury. At first, he was unable to bend his
knee, used crutches and also a wheelchair to move around, and finally used a
cane. He received no physical therapy at Groveland.
In June of 1996, some seven months after the accident, Claimant was able to
ambulate with partial weight bearing on his leg, although he was still suffering
with pain and physical limitations.
Claimant testified credibly that he still suffers pain every day of his life
and is unable to walk long distances, exercise or play golf, and still has
difficulty bending his knee. He is unable to exercise at all. The
intramedullary rod, which still remains in his leg, triggers metal detectors at
airports and the like.
There is a permanent surgical scar of nine and one half inches which runs on
his right leg from his hip downwards to his knee, with the retained fixation
material. Claimant's right thigh and calf have atrophied and his right gluteus
has mild atrophy. He suffers from the loss of bone density or osteoporosis.
The pain that Claimant continues to have is also permanent, and he has a reduced
capacity for strenuous use of the right lower limb.
The latest x-rays show the existence of the internal fixation materials and
overall shows excellent healing of the femur bone. The x-ray report of
Defendant's orthopaedic surgeon was received and considered for this
Claimant was born on June 3, 1947, and at the date of this accident was 48
years of age. At the time of the conclusion of this trial on damages, Claimant
was 55 years old, and has a life expectancy of 23.3
No evidence was presented, and no claim was made with respect to a loss of past
or future earnings. Accordingly, the only damages which I will consider are
those for pain, suffering and the enjoyment of life.
Considering the entire trial testimony and evidence presented concerning the
injuries and enduring pain sustained by Claimant Samuel Tambe, I award the sum
of $65,000.00 for his past pain and suffering from the day of the accident
on October 22, 1995, until the date of the trial on damages, a period of some
7½ years, and for his future pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment
of life from the trial on damages for some 23.3 years thereafter, I award
$115,000.00. In sum, therefore, Claimant is entitled to $180,000.00.
Claimant is entitled to appropriate interest from the date of my earlier
decision on liability herein, July 10, 2002.
All motions not heretofore ruled upon, are now denied.
THE CLERK IS DIRECTED TO ENTER JUDGMENT ACCORDINGLY.