Firefighters responding to emergencies have become the emergency, due to poorly designed door handles on a new line of rigs that have led to several cases of crushed thumbs. Attorney Dana Cohen of Barasch & McGarry is representing five firefighters in a lawsuit against the City of New York. Each suffered a gruesome and painful thumb injury while closing the heavy doors of the new Kovatch Mobile Equipment pumper trucks. The doors’ latches are too close to the hinges, leaving no room for fingers, resulting in thumbs that have been caught, cut and crushed. Firefighters have suffered fractures, wounds requiring several stitches, and the loss of their thumbnails. In some cases, the injuries are so severe that firefighters have lost several weeks of work.
Firefighters are generally prohibited from suing the city due to sovereign immunity. But this case seems to fall into an exception under General Municipal Law 205-a, for cases where the city has violated a statute. Under New York labor law, the city has a duty to provide properly functioning equipment to its employees. The court must decide whether these doors, as they are designed, are too dangerous to be considered properly functioning. An injured party suing the city must also file a Notice of Claim within 90 days of the injury event. When an injured party misses that deadline, he or she must petition the court for permission to file late.
Attorney Cohen’s clients are also considering legal action against KME, the manufacturer of the pumper trucks. The company could be liable for the firefighters’ injuries if the doors’ design is found to be unreasonably dangerous. The FDNY’s actions in response to the injury – changing the handles and latches on its entire fleet of 91 pumper trucks – would seem to support a finding that the design was faulty.
Barasch & McGarry provides effective legal representation for injured firefighters. To learn more about your rights, call us at [ln::phone] or contact our office online to schedule a free consultation.