UNION SQUARE — A jury granted a $10 million award to a man who was crushed by a platform extender 167 times in 13 minutes while pinned against a 4 train in Union Square station.
Michael Dion, a 47-year-old marketing executive, won $10 million in a lawsuit against the New York City Transit Authority for injuries sustained when a platform extender at the Union Square station repeatedly smashed into his body after he fell between the platform and a southbound 4 train on December 10, 2010.
Dion, who was 41 at the time, was waiting to board the train and was standing near the door when he took a wrong step and slipped through the 13-inch gap between the platform and the door, according to his lawyer Jay Dankner.
As he tried to get himself back on the platform, the automated extender shot out, crushing him against the train, Dankner said. Because his body prevented it from fully extending, the one-ton device, which is programmed to fully extend to the train, repeatedly rammed into his body, ultimately crushing Dion 167 times over the next several minutes, according to Dankner.
There was no emergency switch to shut off the extender, so straphangers and transit workers watched helplessly for nearly a quarter of an hour as Dion, still conscious and screaming in pain, was mashed again and again by the device, Dankner said.
Dion suffered extensive injuries, including 12 fractures to his ribs and pelvis and major internal bleeding and damage to his bowels and spleen, and underwent five surgeries in the first week after the incident, Dankner said.
“He was just ripped apart,” Dankner said. “He lost 80 percent of his blood. As one of the doctors said, they had to put Humpty-Dumpty back together.”
But the psychological consequences of the injuries have been even worse, according to Dankner, who said Dion has suffered from nightmares, panic attacks, and an anxiety disorder stemming from the trauma he experienced.
Dion was out of work for nearly nine months following the incident, and had to leave his job at Univision shortly after returning because he was still in such rough shape, Dankner said. He has since returned to work as a marketing executive at a new firm, his lawyer said.
Dion’s case hinged on the argument that the gap between the platform and the train was larger than necessary, allowing Dion, who was 5-feet-9-inches tall and weighed about 195 pounds at the time, to fall through, and cited the Transit Authority for not having an easy way of switching off the platform extender.
According to Dankner, the Transit Authority has since installed safeguards making it easier to switch off the platform extender, but MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz declined to confirm that development.
Ortiz said the agency will appeal the award, saying that it failed to “hold accountable” Dion for the fall, and said Dion was “seriously intoxicated” at the time.