NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Lawyers for a woman who was nearly crushed by a giant tree in Central Park last month along with her three young sons say they’re filing a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the city.
From the life of an active, doting mother to now needing around-the-clock care at home in a hospital bed, 39-year-old Anne Monoky Goldman is trying to recover from multiple spine fractures, memory loss, a concussion and her most serious injury — a fractured vertebrae.
Her attorney tells CBS2, “We’re concerned she may never walk the same again and she is at risk of paralysis.”
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, her attorneys say the city and park are to blame.
Wednesday afternoon, their legal team announced they plan to file a $200 million lawsuit against the city and the Central Park Conservancy, which is responsible for maintaining the park’s trees.
It was the morning of Aug. 15 when Goldman was walking with her then 1-month-old son strapped to her chest and her other two sons, ages 2 and 4, when a giant Elm snapped.
“It started crackling and just fell,” said witness Tammy Jones.
The tree fell on top of them, pinning them beneath the branches and brush. Goldman’s maternal instinct kicking in as she did her best to protect her children, her lawyer says, but she was no match for the force of the impact.
“She had baby in the carrier, tree hit his with such force it sent the baby out of the carrier, and baby went flying so the baby was fortunate enough to land on parts of the tree,” attorney Jordan Merson said.
Her 2-year-old was left with a fractured skull and bleeding on his brain. The other two children were banged up, but OK. Goldman was knocked unconscious.
“When she came to, that’s the first thing she was asking,” witness Jack Jones said. “She didn’t know where she was but wanted to know where her kids were at.”
Today, the tree stump is surrounded by barricades. Representatives from the Conservancy say the tree’s roots had been rotting, causing it to fall. They say the tree had passed its annual inspection last November, showing no signs or decay or disease.
“The fact of the matter is that trees are structures; structures need to be maintained,” attorney Tom Kline said Wednesday.
“(Central) Park was obviously not safe on August 15th, which was a mere month ago. So how can we possibly assume that it’s safe today?” he added.
Doctors have ordered Goldman not to move her neck for three months. Her lawyers say right now, she can only walk with assistance, but it could get worse if her neck does not properly heal.
“If her spine does not fuse, if it does not naturally come back together, then she does face paralysis,” Kline said.
Monoky’s lawyers said what’s been most painful to her is she can’t breastfeed her baby, and feels like she’s missing out on important bonding time between mother and child.
“No individual who sustains that kind of crushing blow ever, in my experience, is 100 percent again,” he added.
Goldman’s lawyers say they’re asking for such a large amount because her life, her sons’ lives and her husband’s have been turned upside down and they say they want to send a clear message to the city.
A representative from the Central Park Conservancy says they do not comment on pending litigation.