A Detective employed by the New York City Police Department received a settlement of $450,000 from the City of New York after sustaining a serious injury to her hand after a Sergeant mistakenly slammed the sliding van door on her hand. The Detective and Sergeant were part of a team on a special assignment. When the team was leaving one scene to go to another location, the Sergeant who was about to be seated in the front passenger seat of an unmarked van thought all fellow Officers were seated inside the van when the Sergeant slammed the sliding rear van passenger door. Unfortunately, the Detective had just entered the van and was using the door frame as leverage to get inside the van. The van door slammed into the Detective’s shooting hand causing a crush injury and torn ligaments in the Detective’s little finger. The injury required surgery to repair the ligament damage. As a result of the trauma, the Detective lost strength and range of motion in the finger. The Detective was awarded a 3/4 line-of-duty disability pension. DCD sued the City of New York pursuant to GML §205-e alleging the City violated Section 27-a(3) of the Labor Law and Section 1146 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law by the Sergeant’s action in negligently and carelessly closing the van’s sliding door. The City of New York attorney’s made a motion to the Court attempting to have the case dismissed in that the Detective’s claim should have been barred by the Firefighter’s rule in that an Officer can’t recover where their duties increase the risk of the injury. Joseph L. Decolator argued on behalf of the Detective, stated that the slamming of the van door did not occur in the midst of an emergency and her injuries were “wholly unrelated to the assumed risks of police duty”. The Court sided with Mr. Decolator’s arguments and the City of New York’s application to dismiss the case was denied. The matter settled for $450,000 at a pre-trial conference.
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