The plaintiff was a tenant in a high-rise building owned by a large real estate operator in New York City. For months, the owner of the building and the local utility company were engaged in a hostile disagreement over certain disputed utility bills. When the owner, in defiance, refused to pay past or current electric bills, the utility company surreptitiously dispatched three men dressed as repair people who passed through security claiming they were on the premises to repair an emergency problem. When inside, they proceeded to disconnect all electric service, thus halting the elevator, and leaving the building occupied by tenants, in total darkness.
Our client lived on the 8th floor and had to walk down to an apartment on the 6th floor (she was a home attendant and had to administer to a bed-ridden patient). As she started to descend the darkened staircase, flashlight in hand, she lost her footing and fell, severely injuring her back. The jury’s outrage was demonstrated by their verdict, which at the time made the front pages of the New York press with a photo, followed by the full story.