This article is reprinted with permission by the New York Law Journal from an article that was published on August 28, 2015. In 2009, the CBS news program 60 Minutes profiled the former Director of Veterans Affairs Fred Downs, who lost his left arm in Vietnam. He had relied upon a hook style prosthetic for four decades, when he strapped on a new prototype robotic arm and picked up a bottle of soda and raised it to his lips. In a subsequent episode, when recalling that moment, Downs became emotional, telling reporter Scott Pelley “the feeling is hard to describe, for the first time in 40 years, my left hand did this [grasping]…it felt so good to move my arm again”. Pelley noted Downs had said “moved my arm again”. Pelley asked if it actually felt like his arm. Downs emphatically responded “it did, it felt like my arm, it…Read More
The Legal Rights of Cyborgs – Should Damage to a Prosthetic Be Considered Property Damage or Personal Injury?
This blog post is a reprint, with permission, of an article published in the New York Law Journal on March 25, 2015. From time immemorial, our common law has provided one set of remedies for damage to one’s property and another set for damage to one’s person. While the latter allows the full gamut of recovery including pain and suffering, lost earnings, medical expenses, lost enjoyment of life and loss of consortium, the former merely allows recovery of the property’s repair or replacement value. One cannot even recover for the sentimental value of property[i]. Yet today, many of us depend on our devices to perform the normal tasks of living, such as walking, talking, hearing and seeing. Damage to these prosthetics can leave a person without the ability to work or perform activities of daily living until repaired. As demonstrated in this article, there is arguably a new suspect class…Read More
This Declaratory Judgment Action arose out of the tower crane collapse on May 30, 2008 at 91st and First Avenue which resulted in multiple deaths and millions of dollars in property, person injury and business interruption claims. We represented the owner of the crane New York Crane & Equipment and it insurance carrier against the lessee and operator of the crane Sorbara Construction Co. and its insurance carrier. Despite Sorbara agreeing to provide insurance to NY Crane in the crane rental agreement, Sorbara’s carrier refused, claiming that NY Crane was not entitled to insurance because it had been indicted for criminally negligence homicide for allegedly putting a defective crane in service and also because the accident had not occurred while Sorbara had been working “for” NY Crane as required by the policy. NY Crane and its principal were acquitted of all charges in the criminal case leaving only the issue…Read More
On Monday, December 2, 2013, the NYT reported that an animal rights group The Nonhuman Rights Project filed a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee in Fulton County, N.Y. Although there are laws that protect animal welfare, this is the first time there has been an attempt to establish that a non-human animal has a right to some measure of “liberty.” The head of the Project is seeking to have New York recognize Tommy as a legal person. The Project says the chimp “is being held captive in a cage in a shed at a used-trailer lot.” They are seeking to have the court place him in one of the several U.S. chimpanzee sanctuaries. The NYT reports that the petition is supported by a “70-plus-page memo rich with legal, scientific and philosophical references” that argues that captive chimps are “enslaved”. The Project argues a chimp is…Read More