In this video, personal injury attorney Fred Eisenberg discusses when it is appropriate to file an injury claim against a city. The lawsuit involved a high school student who was paralyzed when the van she was traveling in was in an auto accident during a school trip. Fred explains the importance of law firms not being afraid to challenge powerful institutions if it is in the best interests of their clients.
Valerie Pietro was a Stuyvesant school student. She was in 11th grade. And she was going on a school trip up to Dartmouth college and it was a track race. The van she was in was a van manufactured by Ford. It went off the roadway, flipped over, and she became paralyzed. She wore a seatbelt. She was sitting in her seat properly. And yet she ended up paralyzed. So we had to make sense of the case and put it together. And we figured out there was a case against Ford, but the stronger case was against the city of New York for having an inexperienced assistant coach drive this van. And she became inattentive with eleven kids in the van and drove it off the highway. I had to prove that she was an agent at the time she was driving the van. Which was pretty difficult. The school said they were never notified about the trip. She did everything independently. She used her own email address. And she took the kids with her own money. But I established that there was a pattern at Stuyvesant High School. Of not informing its coaches and teachers about the proper protocol to go through in order to take a school trip. And in the end, the city of New York paid the highest settlement of history in New York to Valerie. She was an unbelievable kid. She went to Rusk institute after the accident, studied for her SAT’s and got into Harvard. And she is in her senior year at Harvard right now. So she made something out of a tragedy that most of us could never imagine. And we made a huge difference in her life. I felt very proud of the work that I had personally done in the case and I felt especially close to the father in the case, who would call me almost daily to find out what was going on in the case. And I never didn’t take his call. I realized that anything he had to ask me was more important than what I was doing.