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Man sues church after 600-pound crucifix crushes his leg


David Jimenez is seen in an undated photo provided by the the Kitson Law Firm. Jimenez is suing a church for negligence after his right leg was reportedly crushed by a toppling crucifix.

Trial has been scheduled for January in the case of a man who is suing a New York church for negligence after his leg was crushed by a 600-pound crucifix.

David Jimenez, 45, of Orange County, is seeking $3 million from St. Patrick's Church, a Roman Catholic church in Newburgh, N.Y.

The lawsuit was filed in March 2011 after the church denied it was liable for the accident that resulted in six-figure medical bills for Jimenez, whose leg had to be amputated, said his attorney, Kevin Kitson of White Plains.

According to Kitson:

Jimenez, an immigrant from Mexico, started praying every day at a crucifix outside the church after his wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008. After months of treatment and prayer, his wife’s cancer disappeared.

Convinced that it was his prayer before the crucifix that saved his wife, Jimenez asked for and was granted permission to care for the figure of Christ on the cross.

On Memorial Day 2010, he brought along his son, a bucket, a brush and soap. He was preparing to clean the large marble statuary when it snapped from from its base, crushing his right leg.  

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Jimenez was taken to Westchester Medical Center by helicopter, where his leg was amputated. As a result of his injury Jimenez can no longer work and provide for his family, Kitson said. Jimenez had delivery jobs for a bakery and a pizzeria.

Kitson said the heavy crucifix had just a single screw securing it to its base. "There was no anchoring system, just that one screw," he told The Associated Press.

Frank Raia of Rikin Radler, the New York law firm representing the church, wouldn't discuss specifics of the case. The church is part of the Archdiocese of New York, which isn't named as a defendant in the lawsuit, Raia told the AP. 

"Although the archdiocese and St. Patrick's Church recognize and understand this was a terrible accident and they have empathy for Mr. Jimenez and his family, it's our position that the diocese and St. Patrick's Church are not liable for the accident," the AP quoted him as saying.

The suit had been set to go trial last week but was pushed back due to complications from superstorm Sandy. Trial is now scheduled for January.

This article includes reporting by The Associated Press.

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