Jury Awards Nearly $30,000,000 to Of Fire Escape Fall

A New York University student who was rendered a paraplegic after falling from a faulty East Village fire escape in 2008 was awarded $29.3 million Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Anastasia Klupchak prevailed after a four-week trial on claims that the owners and managing agent at 82 Second Ave. were negligent, with the jury in Justice Joan Madden's courtroom debating for two full days before reaching a verdict.

"This is a very gratifying verdict," said Thomas Moore of Kramer, Dillof, Livingston & Moore. "After long, long litigation, a lot of motion work and then briefs to the appellate division, our position was vindicated."

Klupchak was 22 years old when she was visiting her friend Dana Rhinerson on Nov. 15, 2008. Klupchak stepped out onto a vertical ladder fire escape platform that had safety railings on only two sides.

Klupchak, who had been drinking, fell some 12 feet onto a roof extension and suffered injuries that included the loss of movement in her legs.

The jury found that drinking was a factor and thus held Klupchak 25 percent responsible. But the $29.3 million in damages the jury awarded for future medical expenses and home care and pain and suffering was at the top end of a high-low amount set by the parties, said Mark Levi, a partner at Smith, Mazure, Director, Wilkins, Young & Yagerman, who was on the defense team led by Peter Kopff of Peter C. Kopff LLC.

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