Appellate Court Decision Approves Highest Ever Pain and Suffering Award

Written by
Abraham Jaros
Updated on Thursday, Sep 7, 2023

Even those who are suspicious about people “getting rich" with pain and suffering awards might stop to pause when confronted with the facts of Yvonne Yanes vs. the City of New York.

Here’s the facts of the case. The plaintiff was 16 years old when a chemistry demonstration in his high school class went horribly awry. He was set on fire, and suffered catastrophic physical injuries including 3rd degree burns over 31% of his body. The burns were on his face, ears, neck, arms, and hands. He never lost consciousness, at least not until the hospital induced a coma for three days. As one might imagine, there were psychological consequences as well. He had to undergo skin grafts and contracted a MRSA infection while in the hospital. He also required extensive plastic surgery.

The plaintiff, Alonzo Yanes, was originally awarded $29,585,000 for past pain and suffering and $29,585,000 for future pain and suffering over 54 years, plus 9% interest for future pain and suffering. The appeals court reduced the award to $12,000,000 for past pain and suffering and $17,000,000 for future pain and suffering. These still represent the largest pain and suffering awards ever awarded in New York, 50% higher than the next highest award.

This award was not just the result of an accident having taken place. As with any personal injury case, negligence was involved. Anna Poole, the teacher, failed to take the appropriate safety precautions. Students were not kept at a safe distance from the demonstration table, no student was wearing goggles, and there was no fire blanket or safety shower in the classroom. The failure to provide a fire blanket or safety shower and the failure to properly train the teacher meant the New York City Board of Education was also held liable for the student’s injuries.

One thing we try to drive home to those who are suspicious of personal injury cases is that our clients suffer immense physical and emotional harm. They aren’t getting rich at someone else’s expense. Often these accidents completely derail their futures: their career, romantic, and social prospects are brought to a screeching halt. For example, Mr. Yanes’ face was literally burned away, and any time he goes out in public he has to deal with the emotional pain of being gawked at and potentially ridiculed. These awards help ensure that people like Alonzo can live a life at all after the destruction caused by someone else’s negligence.

Get the advice and guidance you and your family need

You do not have to go through this alone.

At Jaroslawicz & Jaros, we have over 40 years of experience helping accident victims in New York recover compensation. The clients we represent benefit from the personal attention of our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys.

We Have Recovered Over $2 Billion for Our Clients.

The attorneys at Jaroslawicz & Jaros have obtained verdicts and settlements of over $1 Million for hundreds of our individual clients. Since all New York personal injury law firms generally charge the same legal fee why not hire an experienced law firm with a proven track record?

When you retain the New York City accident lawyers at Jaroslawicz & Jaros, you will always work directly with your lawyer, and not with a paralegal or secretary. We will always be available to you! Our hundreds of positive client reviews and testimonials speak for themselves.

Experience and a track record of results

Contact the attorneys at Jaroslawicz & Jaros for a free legal consultation regarding your rights and your legal options. If we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis so that you don’t have to worry about any upfront costs.

Contact us today for a free consultation

Picture of Abraham Jaros

You can reach partner Abraham Jaros directly, either call his cell 917-842-9544, or email him at Or call Jaroslawicz & Jaros at 212 227 2780 in New York, or toll free 800-269-2780, or submit an online questionnaire.