In a retrial that allowed additional plaintiff-side expert testimony, a Manhattan jury has awarded $14 million to a former New York Times interior designer whose foot was crushed by a city bus in 2008.
A six-member jury delivered the verdict and damages to William Tate-Mitros on Friday after more than 15 days of trial and just two hours of deliberation, according to Ted Friedman, Tate-Mitros’s lawyer.
Friedman said the key was testimony from biomechanical engineer Calum McRae, who told jurors that the specific injuries to Tate-Mitros’s right foot and a lack of tire-tread markings on the foot were consistent with Tate-Mitros’s claim that his injury was caused by a New York City M15 bus that jumped a curve.
Lawyers for the New York City Transit Authority had argued at the initial 2014 trial and this year’s retrial that Tate-Mitros had made up the accident and falsely blamed his injuries on it, said Friedman, of the Law Office of Theodore H. Friedman in Manhattan.
At the 2014 trial, the Transit Authority produced Dr. Robert Kurtz, a surgical critical care and trauma specialist, who cited the lack of tread marks on the foot and the type of foot injuries as reasons that Tate-Mitros’s injury must have been caused by something smaller than a city bus.
In addition, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Huff disallowed certain rebuttal testimony to Dr. Kurtz at the first trial, according to Friedman. In turn, that jury found for the defense, indicating that it believed that the bus accident never happened.
But the Appellate Division, First Department, reversed Huff’s rebuttal-testimony ruling in 2016 and ordered a new trial. McRae then took the stand in the second trial, which stretched from May to June, and his testimony made the difference, Friedman said.
“The difference was that in the first trial they [jurors] never heard the biomechanical engineer explain that you wouldn’t have to have tire-tread marks, the man was wearing a shoe, and explain that the tire ran only over the front two inches of the foot and not over the back of the foot,” Friedman said Wednesday in a phone interview. “He laid out the intricate details of where the truck went over the foot.”
Jennifer Coyne, a Transit Authority lawyer who handled the retrial, could not be reached for comment this week.
Tate-Mitros, then 61, was walking down First Avenue in Manhattan around 12:30 p.m. in 2008, and trying to catch a cross-town bus, when an M15 bus jumped a curve and crushed his foot, Friedman said. At the time, he was a successful interior designer for The New York Times and private clients as well as a “socially active” city resident who enjoyed ice skating and ballroom dancing.
After the accident, in which the bus allegedly never stopped, continuing uptown on First Avenue, Tate-Mitros underwent three reconstruction surgeries for extensive tissue damage to the right foot. Meanwhile, nine fractures of the toe bones were left unrepaired because of risk of infection.
Due to increasing pain and more rehabilitation in late 2011 and early 2012, Tate-Mitros returned to using a walker and cane and gave up work as interior designer. In 2012 he had a minor stroke, which worsened his foot, made him walker dependent and led him to enter a nursing home, Friedman said.
The jury vote in Tate-Mitros v. MTA New York City Transit, 112752-2008, was 5 to 1, Friedman said. The jury awarded Tate-Mistros $7 million damages for the past nine years and another $7 million for the future 10 years, he added.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Shlomo Hagler presided over the retrial.
“The first thing [Tate-Mitros] said to the police who responded was that ‘a bus ran into my foot,’ and that was the same thing he said eight years later,” Friedman said.