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Jury awards Commack couple $248G in LIRR gap fall

February 23, 2010 By PERVAIZ SHALLWANI Special to Newsday

Long Island Railroad was ordered by a Manhattan jury Tuesday to pay a Commack husband and wife $247,500 for injuries and damages after the woman fell into a gap between the Huntington Station platform and a rail car, an attorney for the couple said.

The couple were attempting to board the train at the time of the accident on March 12, 2006.

Judith Cohen, 72, suffered five fractures near the knee in the femur of her left leg and three fractures in her shoulder, causing her to have two surgeries to repair the leg and roughly 18 months of therapy, said attorney Leonard Chipkin.

In the couple's lawsuit, they had asked for $775,000 but the jury ruled Judith Cohen was 45 percent responsible for her fall into the 9 1/2-inch gap and awarded the smaller sum. The six-person jury reached the verdict after five days of testimony and less than a day of deliberation.

The couple was awarded for past and future pain and suffering and lost productivity for husband, Joseph Cohen, Chipkin said.

"I was very pleased," said Judith Cohen, who along with her husband is an adjunct professor at Dowling College. "The prime purpose for my suit was that to show that LIRR was at fault in my accident. I think since the verdict was in my favor, I think the jury agreed."

Cohen said she sometimes needs to use a cane and, years after the injury, still must visit her surgeon for checkups. Also, her left leg is shorter than her right as a result of the accident. "I have had very serious injuries and a life-changing experience because of the injuries. I have a permanent disability . . . problems with range of motion," she said.

Expert: Carl Berkowitz