Man Sues Church After 600-Pound Cross Crushes Leg

Image credit: Richard Nebesky/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

After Delia Jimenez was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008, her husband, David, often prayed before a large stone crucifix outside St. Patrick's Church in Newburgh, N.Y. Devout Catholics, the couple credited Delia Jimenez's recovery in 2010 to her husband's fervent praying. They were so grateful that his wife asked the parish priest, Blady Socualaya, if her husband could clean the cross to show his gratitude. He said yes.

On Memorial Day of the year of his wife's recovery, Jimenez began to scrub the 600-pound marble crucifix when it became unhinged, toppled on him and crushed his right leg, his lawyer, Kevin Kitson, told ABC News. He was rushed to Westchester Medical Center, where his leg had been so badly mangled it had to be amputated. Jimenez, a Mexican immigrant, spent more than a month in the hospital, ratcheting up hundreds of thousands in medical bills. Kitson told ABC News that Jimenez had no health insurance and that the bills were paid by charitable trusts.

According to Kitson, the statue had been inadequately anchored to the base. "Somebody should have said, 'Don't go climbing up there, because we don't know if it's safe.'"

Since losing his leg, Jimenez, a 45-year-old father of three who worked at a bakery and pizzeria, has been unable to work. Although the parishioners collected $7,700 worth of donations for his family, the Archdiocese of New York's insurance company, Catholic Mutual Group, declined to offer Jimenez any kind of settlement, Kitson said.

Catholic Mutual did not respond to calls from ABC News, but Frank Raia, a lawyer with Rivkin Radler, which represents St. Patrick's Church, told ABC News that "The Archdiocese of New York and St. Patrick's Church understand and recognize that this was a terrible accident. However, it is their position that they are not liable for the happening of the accident."

Jimenez has filed a $3 million negligence lawsuit against the Archdiocese. The case will go to trial in January 2013.