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leg; leg-scar and/or disfigurement, leg;
burns; burns-third degree; burns-second degree; other-buttocks; other-necrosis; other-septic shock; other-decreased range of motion; other-scar and/or disfigurement; epidermis-blister; surgeries/treatment-skin graft; surgeries/treatment-debridement; pulmonary/respiratory-respiratory distress
Maria L. Farias-Alvarez Individually and as Parent and n.g. of Alejandra Alvarez v. Interim HealthCare of Greater New York; Natascha N. Tiger,
April 18, 2014
Alejandra Alvarez (Female, 10 Years),
Maria L. Farias-Alvarez (Female)
Robert R. Sappe;
Feldman, Kleidman, Coffey, Sappe & Regenbaum LLP;
Alejandra Alvarez, Maria L. Farias-Alvarez ■ Richard J. Coffey;
Feldman, Kleidman, Coffey, Sappe & Regenbaum LLP;
Alejandra Alvarez, Maria L. Farias-Alvarez
Natascha N. Tiger,
Interim HealthCare Inc.
Andrew S. Garson;
Garson & Jakub LLP;
Natascha N. Tiger, Interim HealthCare Inc. ■ Wayne I. Rabinowitz;
Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker LLP;
Natascha N. Tiger, Interim HealthCare Inc. ■ Mary Mathwich;
of counsel, Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker LLP;
Natascha N. Tiger, Interim HealthCare Inc. ■ Caryn Lilling;
Mauro Lilling Naparty LLP;
Natascha N. Tiger, Interim HealthCare Inc.
Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. for both defendants
Allied World Assurance Company Holdings, AG for both defendants
On Nov. 23, 2011, plaintiff Alejandra Alvarez, a 10-year-old disabled child who required assistance of most of her everyday activities, was transported to Westchester Medical Center, in Valhalla. Doctors determined that she was suffering burns of her buttocks, her torso, and the front and sides of her legs. Alejandra’s mother, Maria Farias-Alvarez, claimed that Alejandra’s burns occurred during a shower that was administered by Alejandra’s nurse, Natascha Tiger. An investigation ensued, and Tiger signed a document that acknowledged that she recklessly failed to monitor the temperature of the water that was applied during the shower. She was prosecuted; she offered a plea of guilty; and she was convicted of having endangered the welfare of a disabled child. However, she maintained that she did not know the cause of Alejandra’s injuries, and she claimed that her plea was a means of avoiding lengthy imprisonment. Farias-Alvarez, acting individually and as Alejandra’s parent and natural guardian, sued Tiger and Tiger’s employer, Interim HealthCare Inc. The plaintiffs alleged that Tiger was negligent in her showering of Alejandra. The plaintiffs further alleged that Interim HealthCare was vicariously liable for Tiger’s actions. Plaintiffs’ counsel noted that Tiger had admitted guilt, and they contended that collateral estoppel prevented the defense’s contestation of Tiger’s negligence. Judge Robert Onofry agreed. The defense was permitted to contest the cause of Alejandra’s injuries, but it could not present testimony that addressed Tiger’s credentials or experience, the manner in which Tiger showered Alejandra, or circumstances that prompted Tiger’s admission of guilt.
Alejandra suffered second- and third-degree burns of her buttocks, her torso, and the front and sides of her legs. Plaintiffs’ counsel claimed that the burns’ patterns suggested that they were a result of scalding water having been applied to the front of Alejandra’s legs. Alejandra developed blisters, severe impairment of her respiration and septic shock. She underwent debridement of necrotic tissue, and she also underwent grafting of skin. She endured a hospitalization that lasted 40 days. Alejandra retains permanent scars of her legs. She also suffers a residual diminution of each leg’s range of motion. Alejandra’s mother claimed that Alejandra fears water, that Alejandra avoids the bathroom in which her injuries were alleged to have occurred, that Alejandra fears nurses and strangers, and that Alejandra suffers post-traumatic stress disorder. She also claimed that Alejandra’s injuries and trauma exacerbated pre-existing disabilities. Alejandra’s mother sought recovery of Alejandra’s past medical expenses, Alejandra’s future medical expenses, and damages for Alejandra’s past and future pain and suffering. She also presented a derivative claim, but the claim was not pursued. Defense counsel contended that Alejandra’s burns were caused by a reaction to an antibiotic that had been administered to the child. They claimed that scalding was not the first cause that Alejandra’s doctors considered. They claimed that the doctors opined that the burns could have been a product of Stevens-Johnson syndrome, which is a hypersensitive condition that is caused by an allergy, or Staphylococcal Scalded Skin syndrome, which is blistering that is caused by an infection. They noted that blistering continued during the days that followed Alejandra’s admission to Westchester Medical Center, and they claimed that fresh blisters formed on Alejandra’s left arm, which had not exhibited prior indication of an injury. They further claimed that a subsequent biopsy indicated Stevens-Johnson syndrome or a similar condition: toxic epidermal necrolysis. Defense counsel also contended that evidence contradicted the possibility of Alejandra’s burns having been inflicted by water. They noted that Alejandra’s showers were administered while the child was seated on a chair whose open bottom would have prevented scalding of her buttocks.
The jury rendered a defense verdict.
Robert A. Onofry
$4,000,000 and daily increases of $100,000 (by Alejandra Alvarez, during the trial’s first day)
$1,000,000 (for Alejandra Alvarez)
3 male/ 3 female
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs’ and defense counsel.