An aspiring entertainment writer, 31-year-old Alexander Tirpack, was paralyzed after he fell from the top of a Brooklyn condo building during a party. The writer shattered his spine after he stepped into a two-and-a-half foot gap between the condo and an adjacent building in the dark. Tirpack says that the accident could have been prevented if the condo building had city-required wire fencing around the rooftop area. The writer was awarded $43 million by a six-person jury.
The Daily Mail reports that Alexander Tirpack was a Rolling Stone intern focusing on building a career as an entertainment writer when he attended a trendy roof party at a Brooklyn condo. The young writer says that during the party, he needed to use the restroom, but the party’s host said that no one could go inside as his wife was sleeping. Therefore, Tirpack was handed a Gatorade bottle to relieve himself. He then took the Gatorade bottle to a more private area of the roof and accidentally stepped into a two-and-a-half foot gap between the condo and an adjacent building that he was unable to see in the dark.
Tirpack would fall 70-feet to the ground below, shattering his spine. Due to the injuries sustained in the fall, Tirpack says he will require a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Despite his injuries, Tirpack is still a freelance writer, focusing much of his time on disability rights advocacy. However, Tirpack says that his injuries could have been prevented if the condo building developer had followed city protocol for rooftops with recreational access.
According to Tirpack’s lawsuit, the condo builder failed to follow city regulations which require a 10-foot-tall wire fence on all rooftops that are accessible for recreational use. However, the injured writer says that the condo building did not have the required fence because it would obstruct the views from expensive rooftop “cabanas.” Tirpack says that residents of the expensive condo building could purchase one of 24 “rooftop cabanas,” which cost $25,000 apiece in addition to their regular condo prices. Therefore, Tirpack said it was “obvious” that the condo chose to disregard city regulations in order to secure the $25,000 views.
“Obviously, they didn’t put up the fence because it would have ruined the views, and no one would have bought the cabanas.”
Tirpack’s lawyer Alan Shapey says that the city’s statutes regarding fencing on rooftops that are used for “recreation” are “clear as day.” He claims that there is “no wiggle room” and that the city is rife with buildings that are not up to code.
“There’s no wiggle room in the statute. The city has a problem. They are letting non-compliant buildings be constructed. They have made this internal interpretation that’s not in the statute.”
However, the condo developer says that the law is separated into different types of recreation such as basketball and reading. Therefore, he says that the condo building rooftop did not require the fencing and that Tirpack should take responsibility for his own behavior as he was an adult at the time of the tragic accident.The lawyers for the condo association says that while they are sorry about Tirpack’s injuries, they note that Tirpack must take some personal responsibility for the accident.
“The injuries are tragic and the story is tragic, but there has be some level of personal responsibility. He was an adult.”
Despite arguments that Tirpack must take some personal responsibility for the accident, it seems the jury did not agree. The writer was awarded $43 million in damages for past and future expenses associated with his injuries. Though Tirpack won the case, it will likely be some time before he actually sees any of the money as the building developer is appealing the award.
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