A man whose leg had to be amputated after a 600-pound crucifix fell on him is suing a New York church for $3 million.

Attorney Kevin Kitson of White Plains announced that the case of his client, David Jimenez, is scheduled for trial in January 2013 in an Orange County court.

According to Kitson, the 45-year-old prayed to the crucifix outside St. Patrick’s Church in Newburgh after his wife, Delia, the mother of his three children, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. When she recovered, Jimenez expressed his devotion to his Catholic faith by volunteering to clean the cross as a means of giving thanks. 

However in May 2010, as Jimenez was scrubbing the heavy marble, the crucifix dislodged from the base, throwing him down onto the parking lot. The crucifix fell on top of him, crushing his right leg. 

After Jimenez was rushed to Westchester Medical Center by helicopter, doctors realized his injury was too severe to save his leg. It had to be amputated below the knee.

The Mid-Hudson News Network, a newspaper in the region, said Jimenez is unable to work and has filed a negligence lawsuit against the church.

“This is just strictly a priest who didn’t know the fact that this cross was in a defective condition, but not checking up on it or determining how safe it was for this to be done, unfortunately negligently telling someone to go forward with an action and causing this accident,” said Kitson to the publication.

The church told CBS New York that the congregation collected food, as well as $7,000 in cash donations for Jimenez. However, Kitson said the insurance company for the diocese has made collecting additional funds difficult.

Fernando A. Hernandez, pastor of the parish, insists that Jimenez comes from a “really good family.”

“The tragedy hit home for us,” explains Hernandez. “We never hid this from the people. I had to let the church know of the situation. We went to visit David, who is of Mexican descent. I got the OK to help raise a little more than $7,000. That doesn’t even come close, but we wanted to do something because David is a provider to his family. We collected things and tried to help as much as we could. This particularly impacted us because our community is mixed. We visited his home and one of the registered nurses from our parish would stop by and make sure his amputation was always clean.”

Hernandez, who could not comment specifically on the lawsuit because of the upcoming case, did state the church continues to welcome Jimenez’s family. Not only does Jimenez’s older daughter, Erica, work part-time at the church, he notes, but her younger brother, who witnessed the father’s accident, helps his sister. Hernandez said they do not bring up the issue to the children out of respect.

“It’s very unfortunate this took place,” says Hernandez.

The Associated Press is reporting that the church is claiming they are not liable for the accident. The case will go to trial in the coming weeks.

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You can reach Stephanie Nolasco via Twitter: @SNolasco

 

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