Winter storms can be a boon for landscaping companies that want to supplement revenue with snow and ice removal services. Or not.
A Port Chester company, Gold and Green Landscaping Corp., has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in bankruptcy court in White Plains over a potential $1 million liability in a slip-and-fall lawsuit.Janeth Medina, a housekeeper at a Greenwich home, said she injured her left wrist, neck and back in 2015 when she slipped on ice that had accumulated in the driveway at 535 North St. She sued Gold and Green in Superior Court in Stamford, claiming that it was negligent in maintaining the driveway.
Gold and Green had a $2 million insurance policy, but it included a $25,000 snow and ice rider.
That limit, said company President Marta Alvarez, “has been exhausted” on legal fees. Her attorney has withdrawn from the case, she said, because the insurance no longer covers payments.
Alvarez formed the landscaping company in 2013. She owns three trucks and a van and landscaping equipment. Last year the firm took in $252,181, according to bankruptcy records. In 2016, it grossed $300,807.
She pays herself and Manuel Esteche, her husband and the manager, $14,497 each per year. She pays $1,000 a month rent to operate the business at her home.
If not for the potential $1 million judgment, Gold and Green would have a healthy balance sheet: $125,900 in assets and $21,000 in liabilities.
Alvarez argued in the slip and fall case that she had no control over the conditions that led to the accident. Medina, she said, should have taken reasonable care for her own safety, knowing that she was walking on a driveway with an obvious accumulation of snow or ice.
But the lawsuit has taken several “twists and turns,” Alvarez said in a bankruptcy court affidavit, and mediation has failed.
Medina also sued the owner of the Greenwich house, JDH LLC, but did not name the residents as defendants. JDH is registered in Connecticut to Edith Cooper and Robert Taylor.
Gold and Green filed for bankruptcy to “protect itself from having to defend a large claim in Connecticut state court where it believes it will not receive fair treatment and the costs will be unmanageable.”
A jury trial had been scheduled for July. In filing for bankruptcy, Alvarez has asked the Stamford court for a stay to stop the proceedings.
That will give Gold and Green time to file a reorganization plan and get “a few months breathing room,” Alvarez said, “to execute its plans.”