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April 17, 2009 - $27 Million Jury Award to Manhattan Leg-Crush Victim

A Manhattan jury has awarded $27.5 million to a woman whose left leg was amputated after being mangled by a city bus.

Gloria Aguilar, 45, a janitorial worker, was headed home when she was hit by the 40,000-pound vehicle as she crossed West 50th Street at 10th Avenue at 7 p.m. on Nov. 4, 2005.

Defense lawyers said Aguilar walked into the side of the bus outside the crosswalk, but the jury found the MTA responsible.

The X1 express bus was turning east onto 50th Street when it dragged Aguilar for about eight feet, leaving behind a trail of blood and a single black shoe.

Her left leg was amputated from above the knee at Bellevue Hospital. She also underwent multiple surgeries, had to learn to use a prosthetic leg and suffered severe head, limb and torso injuries, as well as nerve damage to both legs, says the lawsuit, filed with her husband, Aristides, in 2006.

Her lawyer, Ben Rubinowitz, called the award the largest ever for a lost leg.

The MTA argued that Aguilar, by leaving the curb after the bus had turned into the crosswalk, "forfeited her right of way."

It also said a blind spot may have blocked the view of the driver, who testified he slowed about 50 to 75 feet before the intersection but did not stop because the light was green.

The MTA vowed to appeal.

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