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Live Nation Faces N.Y. Record $20 Million for Pain, Suffering

April 14, 2021, 7:23 PM

Live Nation Worldwide Inc. will remain on the hook for $20 million for pain and suffering—a record amount for New York State—to a man who suffered traumatic brain injury in an accident while working on the grounds of the Jones Beach Theater, after a New York appeals court pared the amount from $40.6 million.

Live Nation and parties that filed a friend of the court brief, including organizations that represent New York’s municipalities, companies doing business in the state and insurers, asked the court to reduce the pain and suffering award, arguing that, with two exceptions, New York courts have adhered to a $10 million limit.

The court reduced the award, saying it “deviates materially from what would be reasonable compensation.” But the court declined “the invitation of defendant and amici” to prohibit the practice of “anchoring"—requesting that a jury award an “unjustifiably large award,” in an effort to inflate the verdict.

Counsel for plaintiff Mark Perez applauded the ruling. “We were very pleased with the appellate court’s decision,” which is the “largest ever affirmed,” attorney Benedict Morelli with Morelli Law Firm PLLC in New York told Bloomberg Law.

“There aren’t that many catastrophic injury cases that go up to the appellate court,” Morelli said. “Going forward, plaintiffs and defendants will bring this case up when they’re negotiating,” he said.

Perez was working on the construction of a two-level vendor’s booth for Best Buy on June 26, 2013, at the Nassau County theater, which Live Nation is licensed to operate, when another worker hit the booth with a forklift, causing him to fall to the ground 10 feet below.

Perez suffered severe traumatic brain injury, resulting in permanent injuries, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division said Tuesday.

Perez’s injuries, including his post-traumatic epilepsy, his chronic pain, his cognitive deficits, his mood issues, and his partial paralysis on his left side have rendered him permanently disabled and unemployable, according to his appellate court brief.

The jury initially awarded $85.75 million for pain and suffering, which the trial court reduced to $40.6 million.

Justices Sallie Manzanet-Daniels, Angela M. Mazzarelli, Jeffrey K. Oing and Tanya R. Kennedy issued the ruling.

Morelli Law Firm PLLC, and Morrison Cohen LLP represented Perez. Shaub, Ahmuty, Citrin & Spratt LLP represented Live Nation.

Malaby & Bradley LLC represented amici New York State Association for Affordable Housing, New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials, Business Council of New York State, Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, Building Trades Employers Association, Associated General Contractors of New York State, General Contractors Association of New York. Inc., Women Builders Council, Trucking Association of New York, New York Insurance Association, Inc., MLMIC Insurance Company, NFIB Small Business Legal Center, American Trucking Associations, Inc., Coalition for Litigation Justice, Inc., American Property Casualty Insurance Association, and National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies.

The case is Perez v. Live Nation Worldwide Inc., 2021 BL 134621, N.Y. App. Div., 1st Dep’t, No. 13579, 4/13/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Hayes in Washington at PHayes@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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