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North Hempstead hires outside law firm to handle manhole fall lawsuit

North Hempstead Town Hall, seen on Oct. 14.

North Hempstead Town Hall, seen on Oct. 14. Credit: Howard Schnapp

North Hempstead town officials have hired outside counsel to assist in a lawsuit filed by a Westbury resident who allegedly fell into a municipal manhole three years ago.

Sharon Bird, 36, of Westbury, alleges she fell on Aug. 21, 2015, and first filed the lawsuit in state Supreme Court in Mineola in March 2016. The case is scheduled to be heard next Thursday and may go to trial, said her attorney, Allen J. Rosner  of Westbury. She is seeking unspecified monetary damages, court documents show.

The town board voted Sept. 27 to hire Mineola-based Cuomo LLC to assist in the litigation. The board had previously approved hourly rates of $235 for partners, $185 for associates, and $75 for paralegals, said town spokeswoman Carole Trottere, without providing more detail on the lawsuit. The town does not comment on pending litigation, she said.

The lawsuit names the town and its department of public works as defendants. Bird initially also sued the village of Westbury, the village’s department of public works, Nassau County, and the Nassau County Department of Public Works. Rosner said Nassau County, Westbury and their departments of public works have since been dismissed from the lawsuit.

Bird alleged she fell into a partially open manhole and sustained “severe and permanent personal injuries,” according to court documents. The town “negligently and carelessly” failed to ensure safety for pedestrians walking in the town near the intersection of Broadway and Grand Boulevardin Westbury, the complaint reads.

Westbury Village Attorney Anna Vikse said the alleged fall occurred in an unincorporated area of North Hempstead outside the village’s bounds.

Rosner said that Bird had “really horrific scrapes to her legs” that required skin grafts. She is seeking “fair and reasonable compensation for her pain and suffering, including medical expenses,” Rosner added.

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