By TOM NAMAKO and DAREH GREGORIAN
He got so drunk that he fell into the path of a subway train - costing him his right leg - but a Manhattan jury still awarded him $2.3 million after finding that NYC Transit was to blame. Dustin Dibble, 25, of Brooklyn admitted he'd been boozing it up with friends for four hours before ending up on the tracks at the 14th Street Station with an N train bearing down on him. The impact took off his right leg just below the calf. He had a .18 blood-alcohol level - more than double the legal limit if he were driving - at the time of the accident, according to hospital records. Dibble admitted he was so blitzed he didn't remember anything about the 1:50 a.m. accident - including how he ended up on the tracks - but the jury still found he didn't bear the majority of the blame. NYC Transit was the bigger culprit, said Dibble's lawyer, Andrew Smiley, because, "a subway- train operator is obligated to stop a subway train before it strikes a large object on the tracks, even if it is not known that the object is actually an intoxicated person." Asked if his client's drunkenness factored into the accident, he said, "We never disputed that." "It was just an accident [but] it wasn't my choice to lose my leg," Dibble said yesterday at his Bay Ridge home. A spokesman for NYC Transit, Paul Fleuranges, said lawyers are reviewing the Feb. 9 verdict. Mayor Bloomberg's office declined comment. At trial, the agency countered that if Dibble hadn't been so drunk, he wouldn't have fallen on the tracks. Dibble, then an investigator for Bergdorf Goodman, had gone out with friends to an Upper West Side bar on April 25, 2006, to watch his beloved Buffalo Sabres take on the Philadelphia Flyers in an NHL playoff game. Smiley said his client was heading back to Staten Island when he entered the station at about 1:30 a.m. He doesn't recall anything else. Train operator Michael Moore, a longtime MTA vet with a sparkling record, said in a deposition, "I saw what I thought was garbage on the track" and continued into the station. Moore, who suffered a fatal stroke before the case went to trial, also said in his deposition, "I saw movement and I put the train into emergency" - meaning he hit the emergency brake. Smiley said Moore had testified at the deposition that he couldn't "stop every time he sees garbage," because "there's garbage all over the place," but NYC Transit rules call for the motorman to stop the train if there's a mass on the tracks. The lawyer told jurors Moore's decision is why his client, a former varsity college football and basketball player, lost his leg. The jury returned a $3.5 million verdict in Dibble's favor, but also found him 35 percent responsible - meaning he'll collect $2,336,713, before lawyer's fees, unless there's a successful appeal.
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