CLAREMONT VILLAGE — A sanitation worker who drank "a large amount of alcohol" broke a woman's jaw in two places — forcing her to undergo surgery and have a metal plate installed — during a department party earlier this year, according to a $2 million lawsuit.
Maria Montanez, 32, was at a party on May 23 that the Sanitation Department sponsored and held at its 1661 West Farms Rd. facility in The Bronx when she tried to break up a fight and was pounced on, the lawsuit, filed in Bronx Supreme Court on Aug. 8, alleges.
The event was held during work hours, and the city provided alcohol, according to the suit.
During the party, sanitation worker Fabio Reyes, 39, who had been drinking heavily, hit Montanez several times in the face, breaking her jaw in two places, court documents say.
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According to her lawyer, Elliot Fuld, Montanez, who lost her job in the wake of the incident, had tried to break up a dispute between people at the event.
"An argument broke out amongst several people in this sanitation garage," Fuld said. "Maria sort of tried to intercede, just to calm everybody down, and then the next thing you know, one of these workers, they hit her a couple times, broke her jaw."
Fuld said he did not know what the argument was about or if Reyes and Montanez knew each other before to the incident. Montanez could not be reached for comment.
Montanez had to undergo surgery and have a metal plate, four screws and metal wire installed in her jaw and teeth because of the injuries she suffered, the lawsuit says.
Her jaw was wired shut for a week, and she lost her job as a housekeeper and child caretaker because of the injuries, according to Fuld.
A claim about the incident filed with the Comptroller's Office on Aug. 8 alleges that city and Sanitation Department employees did nothing to prevent the attack on Montanez.
Montanez is seeking $2 million in damages from the city.
Reyes, who also could not be reached for comment, was arrested on May 29 and charged with two counts of assault and one count of harassment. He was arraigned on May 30 and released without bail.
His next court appearance is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 4. His lawyer did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Reyes' current status with the Sanitation Department is unclear.
The case is still under investigation, according to the Bronx District Attorney's office.
The city Law Department had not yet seen the court papers, an agency spokeswoman said.
The Comptroller's Office and Sanitation Department declined to comment on the suit, but Fuld said he was convinced it would result in a victory for Montanez.
“She’s entitled to some money and will get some money at some point in time,” he said. “That can take a couple years at least to get here, but I’m confident it will resolve in her favor.”