After a church service at the First Calvary Baptist Church on 148th Street, Mrs. Lewis and her son Ernest were on their way home. They were trying to catch the BX19 bus at 145th Street at the Convent Ave. bus stop. As Ernest was running alongside the bus, he began hitting the side, which was not moving, to alert the driver of their presence. As he got in front of the middle wheels of this 60-foot-long articulating bus, he tripped, and his legs fell under the bus. An eyewitness, Alphonza Elliott, testified at the trial that it was just about the time the child fell that the driver started the bus. The middle tire rode over his legs. Police officers called to the scene noted a tire tread impression on his leg.
The driver claimed that he knew the child was running for the bus but didn’t see him when he was near the middle and pulled into the intersection. He glanced at his right-side mirror, saw a shadow on the ground, and stopped the bus in the middle of the intersection to investigate. He found Ernest behind the middle tire. There was a lot of blood. He called the TA from the phone on his bus, while the eye witness called 911 on his cell phone.
On Thursday evening, March 3, 2011, a New York County jury reached a verdict in the case of Ernest Lewis when as a child with his mother Brenda Lewis, against the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority, MABSTOA, and Courtney Thompson, Index no. 101833/07. The four-man, two-woman jury awarded the 13-year-old (now 27) plaintiff $6,783,202.90 for being run over by the BX19 bus at 145th Street and Convent Avenue on November 19, 2005.
Ernest sustained a significant degloving injury to his right lower leg tearing off skin, muscle, and tendons and exposing the bones, fracture of the distal fibula, avulsion of the distal tibia, and a fracture of the left calcaneus. Ernest was taken to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, where skilled trauma specialists treated him for 3 1/2 weeks, saving his leg. He was taken to the OR on 8 separate occasions for the placement of pins and an external fixator to hold the fractured fibula in place, placement of a rod in the fibula (permanent) to align the bone fragments, a syndesmotic screw to realign the spacing between the tibia and fibula and an 8 1/2 hour surgery to harvest muscle from his abdomen to transplant into his leg and to harvest skin from his thigh to graft over the transplanted muscle. He also had a cast on his left foot. After 3 1/ 2 weeks at Children’s hospital, he was transferred to St. Mary’s Rehabilitation Hospital in Ossining, New York, on December 15, 2005. He remained there until February 24, 2006, making periodic visits to his doctors at Presbyterian. The cast on the left leg was removed on January 5, 2006, and the external fixator was removed on February 14, 2006.
The trial, which started on February 22, 2011, before Justice Geoffrey Wright in Supreme Court, New York County, in the evening, ending in a jury verdict. The jury awarded Ernest $2,500,000.00 for past pain and suffering, $283,202.09 for past medical expenses, and $4,000,000 over ten years for future pain and suffering.
He continued to receive nursing care and physical therapy at home until May 2006, when he finally returned to his 8th-grade class at St. Dominic’s School. Ernest is presently in his freshman year at Berkley College in Manhattan, expecting to earn a degree in business in four years. Ernest and Mrs. Lewis were represented by Richard A. Gurfein, Esq. of Gurfein Douglas LLP in Manhattan. The Transit Authority and the other defendants were represented by Lynne Troy Henderson, Esq. of Wallace Gossett’s office.
Comment: The Bus Operator knew the child was alongside his bus. He should only have moved the bus once the child left the danger zone.
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