Trief & Olk Secures A $2.5 Million Settlement For Injured Plaintiff

Trial attorneys Ted Trief and Jason Kaufer, on the morning of trial, negotiated a settlement of $2,500,000 for a plaintiff who had his right leg amputated below the knee after being struck and run over by a New York City subway. After entering the 23rd Street and 8th Avenue northbound subway station, the intoxicated plaintiff fell from the subway station platform onto the train tracks. A northbound “C” train struck and ran over the plaintiff.  The New York City Transit Authority’s defense was that this accident was solely caused by the plaintiff due to his intoxication. Trief & Olk argued that New York City Transit Authority was responsible for plaintiff’s injuries, despite intoxication being a proximate cause, because (i) it was conceded that the train operator saw the plaintiff fall onto the tracks, (ii) the train operator failed to utilize the train’s emergency brake as she was supposed to under these circumstances and (iii) had the emergency brake been used, the train operator had ample time to stop the train prior to running over the plaintiff. The train operator’s action were recorded on the train’s “black box”.  No settlement offers were made by defendants prior to the morning of trial.

Trief & Olk was able to reach this settlement by building an irrefutable case against the defendants through aggressive discovery tactics and a team of expert witnesses.  

After extensive motion practice, the New York City Transit Authority finally provided Trief & Olk with the pertinent documents to the prosecution of this case including the specifications for the train involved in this accident, the specifications of the train station where this accident took place and, most importantly, the Event Data Recorder for the train in question. The subway train’s Event Data Recorder is the equivalent of a plane’s black box, an electronic recording devise that documented a second-by-second account of the actions of the subway train and of the train operator leading up to the time of this accident. Through the Event Data Recorder, Trief & Olk learned the precise location of the train on the tracks at the time that the train operator applied the brakes, the speed of the train at the time that the train operator applied the brakes, the manner in which the train operator applied the brakes, how far the train travelled after the train operator applied the brakes, the precise location of the train on the tracks when it came to a complete stop, and the precise location of the plaintiff when he was struck by the train.  


Armed with the data regarding the subway train in question, the deposition of the train operator solidified the liability of the New York City Transit Authority for this accident. The train operator conceded that she saw the plaintiff falling onto the tracks before the train entered the subway station and testified that she immediately applied the emergency brake to stop the train. The Event Data Recorder confirms that the train operator applied the brakes in response to seeing the plaintiff but reveals that she did not apply the emergency brake as she claimed and had been trained to do. Instead, she applied the regular dynamic brake that is utilized to stop the train under normal non-emergent circumstances. Through discovery, Trief & Olk learned, by way of the New York City Transit Authority’s own studies, that the train in question would have stopped in 250 feet had the emergency brake been applied as opposed to the dynamic brake.  Due to the train operator’s failure to apply the emergency brake, the train travelled 425 feet, striking the plaintiff, before coming to a stop. Based upon the location of the plaintiff on the tracks, the train would have stopped approximately 125 feet before reaching plaintiff had the train operator applied the emergency brake.  

Trief & Olk supported plaintiff’s case with a team of experts to explain defendant’s liability and plaintiff’s damages. The team included an engineer to discuss how and why the train operator was negligent in the operation of the train, an orthopedist to discuss the plaintiff’s multiple injuries, including the amputation of his right leg below the knee, a prosthetics expert to discuss plaintiff’s future needs, a life care plan expert to explain the cost of all of the medical care and prosthetic replacements needed by the plaintiff for the remainder of his life and an economist to discuss the financial losses sustained by plaintiff as a result of his future medical needs and his loss of earnings.  

Trief & Olk represents individuals in a wide variety of personal injury accidents, including train and subway station accidents. If you have been injured in a train accident, or by any other cause, contact Trief & Olk by telephone or our website submission form to find out how Trief & Olk can help you.