Case by Case: Our Clients Speak

Case by Case: Our Clients Speak

By Thomas M. Bona & John J. Tambascia. Sage Advice and Constant Support We who are in this business of defending our clients when they have an accident can become somewhat immune to the reality that when there is an accident and the client is sued, this will be a very stressful, strange and likely long experience.  Here at Pillinger Miller Tarallo, LLP (“PMT”), our experienced lawyers never forget that our clients are just like us and our families who sometimes get thrust into unfortunate situations.  It is always in our uppermost mind to treat our clients with respect, dignity, care, and compassion. A recent case in which we were involved, where we achieved a very good result in a horrific accident, demonstrates how our clients come to rely upon us for sage advice and constant support.  The accident happened in March 2015 when our client was parking their vehicle and crashed through an AT&T store.  The client’s vehicle came to stop well within the confines of the store and in the process, three patrons inside the store were injured, one fatally.  The entire incident was captured on video from multiple angles. The first patron, plaintiff #1, was a woman in her 50’s who was behind the display, knocked over and dragged.  It wasn’t until the client’s vehicle came to a complete stop, that anyone even noticed that she was under the vehicle.  Some 16 patrons and bystanders picked up the vehicle and pulled her from under the vehicle.  She was writhing in pain, and unfortunately, succumbed to her injuries at the ER later that day. The second patron,...
Case by Case: Winds of Change? Second Department Adopts Tougher View of Safe Place To Work

Case by Case: Winds of Change? Second Department Adopts Tougher View of Safe Place To Work

By Thomas M. Bona. In November 2017, at Pillinger Miller Tarallo, LLP (“PMT”), we predicted that the Court of Appeals under Judge Janet DiFiore would begin to interpret the Labor Law more favorably for the construction industry and insurance industry. This would signal to the rest of the New York courts that Labor Law matters should be decided in a more even-handed fashion. A recent case from the Second Department demonstrates that this may indeed be occurring. In Ochoa-Hoenes v. Finkelstein, 173 A.D.2d 1080 (2d Dep’t, May 2019), the plaintiff was injured at a construction site which involved the erection of a modular home owned by the homeowners Finkelstein. The modular home components were manufactured by Signature Builders, Inc., and the defendant Vesta Development Group, an authorized representative of Signature Builders, Inc., was hired by the Finkelsteins to perform construction management services for the project. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was employed by an electrical contractor hired by the Finkelsteins. The accident happened while the plaintiff was preparing for the installation of lights in the home’s basement. After noticing that a stack of plywood sheets that had been placed against the basement wall was resting on the electrical wires, the plaintiff attempted to move the stack himself, which caused it to tip over and strike his right ankle and foot. Plaintiff sued alleging common-law negligence against the defendants based upon their alleged failure to maintain the premises and to provide him with a safe place to work, which is the same standard as is codified in Labor Law §200. Notably, there were no Labor Law allegations...
Case by Case: Court of Appeals Rules That Foreign Risk Retention Groups Are Not Subject To Insurance Law

Case by Case: Court of Appeals Rules That Foreign Risk Retention Groups Are Not Subject To Insurance Law

Requiring A Disclaimer As Soon As Reasonably Possible One of the linchpins of insurance coverage in New York is Insurance Law §3420(d)(2) which requires that a disclaimer be made as soon as reasonably possible.  This requirement applies to all insurance companies which are issuing or delivering liability policies in the State of New York, but does this apply to Risk Retention Groups who are not domiciled in New York, but are doing business in New York?  A recent Court of Appeals case clarified what is required by non-domiciliary Risk Retention Groups. By way of background, in 1988, the legislature amended Article 59 of the Insurance Law to provide for the formation and operation in New York of Risk Retention Groups.  A Risk Retention Group (“RRG”) is an issuer of insurance owned and operated by insureds who work in the same industry and are exposed to similar liability risks.  When the legislature authorized RRGs, it provided that non-domiciliary RRGs doing business in New York shall comply with the unfair claims of settlement practices provisions as set forth in §2601 of the Insurance Law.  Insurance Law §2601 lists acts by insurers which, if committed without just cause and performed with such frequency as to indicate a general business practice, shall constitute unfair settlement practices.  This included failing to promptly disclose insurance coverage pursuant to Insurance Law §3420(d). Insurance Law §3420(d) contains two paragraphs:  The first requires insurers to respond to requests for information by insureds or injured individuals, and mandates that insurers inform the requesting party within statutory deadlines whether the insured has a particular policy, the coverage limits of that...
Ice Storm in Progress

Ice Storm in Progress

Appellate Division Affirms Lower Court’s Grant of Summary JudgmentOn Basis of Plaintiff’s Own Testimony That There Was an Ice Storm in Progress Sometimes with summary judgment motions as with everything else, persistence is the key. Unfortunately, lower courts don’t always make the correct decision and sometimes, it is necessary to make a motion to re-argue when the Court makes the wrong decision. A recent case in which Pillinger Miller Tarallo, LLP won a summary judgment for the building owner we represented, is a good example of this and how a plaintiff’s own testimony can be used to defeat her case. In Perez v. The Pinnacle Group, plaintiff, who was a tenant in the building in the Bronx, went to the lobby where she was waiting for her son who was going to drive her to a church event on January 18, 2015, which would turn out to be one of the worst ice storms in the region’s history. While she was in the lobby, the plaintiff noticed that precipitation was falling. However, she was not aware that ice was falling. When the plaintiff’s son failed to appear, she decided to drive herself. The plaintiff exited the building and went to the parking lot where her vehicle was parked. As she reached the end of the sidewalk, she saw a ramp which led from a sidewalk to the street level and into the parking lot. The plaintiff took a step off the sidewalk onto the ramp with her right foot when she slipped. Prior to falling, the plaintiff looked down and saw small balls of ice. The plaintiff laid on...
New York Courts to Begin Presumptive Mediation for Civil Cases (ADR)

New York Courts to Begin Presumptive Mediation for Civil Cases (ADR)

By Marc H. Pillinger. By the end of this year, New York State Courts are set to have a system in place requiring civil litigation to attempt to be resolved through presumptive mediation, rather than in open court. This future transition to presumptive mediation will significantly impact how civil cases are litigated in New York State. In an effort to make court proceedings more efficient and cost-effective, New York State Courts are implementing new protocols to alleviate backlogs throughout the judiciary system. For years the New York judicial system has attempted to implement alternatives to in-court litigation with little success. New York courts are following New Jersey and Connecticut’s approaches to creating alternatives to in-court litigation for civil cases – presumptive mediation. New York State’s proposed system mimics that of New Jersey, which has been utilizing an automatic presumptive mediation program for more than a decade. Following the implementation of court-sponsored ADR in New Jersey, fewer than two percent of cases had a jury trial. Statistics from the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts show that a third of cases referred to mediation are resolved within the first session and 10 percent of cases settle within 90 days of the termination of mediation. Within the coming months, New York administrators will be working in tandem with the state’s administrative and trial courts to expand the number and scope of the court-sponsored ADR programs. In doing so, the Office of Court Administration plans to issue uniform rules for the program as the courts take advantage of the existing resources in place. The statewide program is expected to begin its...
PMT Announces New Partners Thomas M. Bona and James Freire

PMT Announces New Partners Thomas M. Bona and James Freire

We Are Pleased to Announce PMT’s New Partners Thomas M. Bona and James Freire. Each attorney is a talented advocate for the firm’s clients and has achieved their current position with persistent and successful work. Thomas M. Bona Tom has been a practicing attorney for over 35 years and joined Pillinger Miller Tarallo, LLP in 2019 as a partner at PMT’s Elmsford, NY office. Prior to that, since 1988 Tom was managing partner of Thomas M. Bona, P.C. with years of experience in insurance defense and coverage practice areas. Tom is admitted to practice in New York and has a wealth of experience in all types of civil matters including Construction/Labor law, Coverage Matters, Municipal Liability, Automobile, Dram Shop actions, and Premises Liability cases. See Tom’s Bio   James Freire Jim has been a practicing attorney since 1983. His practice over the last twenty years has been primarily focused on professional liability matters. He represents clients in construction work site injury claims, construction defect and property damage claims and environmental claims under the Navigation Law. His clients have included major construction companies, contractors and building owners involved in new construction and renovation projects. Jim has been involved in several high profile matters, including acting as lead counsel for a Fortune 500 company in a confidential mediation which involved 197 days of construction delays. See James’...