New York Law Journal

Monday, February 6, 2006

Premises Liability


Lily Insogna v. Sixty Sutton Corp.; David Wirtz; and Joann Brancato

Third-Party Case: David Wirtz and Joann Brancato v. Daniel Higgins; George Kajdacsi; The Black & Decker Corporation; and Price Pfister, Inc.

New York Supreme

Nov. 8

NEUTRAL: Milton Mollen, JAMS

ATTORNEYS: Charles M. Mirotznik, New York, for plaintiff;

Michael L. Boulhosa of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, New York, for George Kajdacsi;

Robert A. Calinoff of Calinoff & Katz, New York, for The Black & Decker Corporation and Price Pfister, Inc.;

Patricia A. Murphy of Conway, Farrell, Curtin & Kelly, New York, for David Wirtz and Joann Brancato;

Howard Snyder of Smith Mazure Director Wilkins Young Yagerman & Tarallo, New York, for Sixty Sutton Corp.;

Steven L. Sonkin of Marshall, Conway & Wright, New York, for Daniel Higgins.

FACTS AND Allegations: In early July 2002, Lily Insogna, a finance and real estate worker in her 60s, notified the apartment building's manager of a water leak in the bedroom of her apartment at 60 Sutton Place South, in Manhattan. Notices were sent to the shareholders who lived above Ms. Insogna--David Wirtz and Joann Brancato.

On July 25, Ms. Insogna's ceiling broke open, and water started leaking. The building's co-op corporation, Sixty Sutton Corp., attempted to fix the leak-- without the assistance of a professional plumber--by breaking the ceiling open and covering it in plastic. Subsequently, the water filled the plastic and broke through into the apartment. On Aug. 8, a plumber was called to repair the leak in the bathroom of Mr. Wirtz and Ms. Brancato's apartment. However, a week later, it began to leak again.

Ms. Insogna sued Sixty Sutton, Ms. Brancato and Mr. Wirtz. Ms. Brancato and Mr. Wirtz commenced a third-party suit against contractors who performed renovations: Daniel Higgins; The Black & Decker Corp. and Price Pfister, Inc.; and a plumber who performed renovations, George Kajdacsi. Counsel for Black & Decker and Price Pfister did not respond to VerdictSearch's fax or phone call.

Ms. Insogna claimed that the water leak caused mold, fungi and bacteria to form in her apartment. Ms. Insogna claimed that the exposure to these conditions caused her numerous health injuries, including asthma and bronchitis. On Aug. 13, 2002, she left her apartment for a six-month period, after her symptoms had not improved.

The parties agreed to a $95,000 settlement via the guidance of JAMS mediator Milton Mollen. Sixty Sutton's insurer agreed to contribute $25,000; the insurer of Mr. Wirtz and Ms. Brancato agreed to contribute $22,500; Mr. Higgins' insurer agreed to contribute $22,500; Mr. Kajdacsi's insurer agreed to contribute $22,500; and the insurer of Black & Decker and Price Pfister agreed to contribute $2,500.

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