122407pigeons.jpgThe MTA has been making an effort to warn commuters to watch their step going up and down the subway stairs, but it’s not just because they care so much about your safety – it’s because they can be held liable for your nasty falls. A former doorman has been awarded $7.67 million in damages resulting from a spill he took on the stairs of a Bronx subway station back in 1998. In this case the cause of the tumble wasn’t haste but rather a nice slimy pile of pigeon droppings.

Bronx resident Shelton Stewart slipped on the feces on his way home from work, breaking two bones in his neck, one in his back and ending up with herniated discs and a bruise to his spinal cord. The poor guy has been in a world of pain for the past nine years:

Stewart had to relearn such routine acts as standing, dressing and brushing his teeth. He underwent several surgeries to get bolts and plates placed in his neck, deal with a life-threatening infection, and remove the herniated discs. And an implanted pump that dispensed painkillers into his system 24/7 had to be replaced recently.

Stewart will get to keep 80 percent of $7 million, or $6.13 million, because he was found 20 percent liable for failing to avoid the poop pile the second time around after noticing it on his way to work. Still, $6 million’s not too shabby; Stewart has his eye on a new house and a trip to Disneyworld with his daughters.

Pigeons: winged rats or ticket to easy street? The payoff is sure to fan the flames of City Council Member Simcha Felder’s crusade against pigeons; he’s proposed a $1,000 fine for people who feed the birds and wants the city to appoint a “pigeon czar.” Think they’re overreacting? You probably haven’t had maggots – formed in rotting pigeon poop – falling on you from ceiling panels at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal at St. George.

Photo of pigeons dining in the subway by Padraigin Murphy.