Result: $1 Million Settlement for Injured Carpenter

$1 Million Recovered Through Mediated Settlement by The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C.

The case stems from an incident in April of 2011 when the plaintiff, a 46-year-old carpenter, had been installing doors at a Manhattan apartment building that was being renovated. In the course of his work, the plaintiff attempted to saw a thin piece of wood using a table saw provided by his employer. When the wood became stuck on the table saw’s blade, the plaintiff’s hand was drawn into path of the blade. He suffered injuries to three of his fingers as a result.

Following the incident, the plaintiff filed suit, alleging the premises owner violated New York Labor Law, including:

  • Title 23, section 1.5(a), which outlines general workplace-safety requirements;
  • Tile 23, section 1.5(c), which prohibits worksite managers from allowing use of unsafe or damaged equipment;
  • Tile 23 section 1.12(c), which requires worksite managers to ensure power saws have specific safety guards; and
  • Tile 23 section 9.2(a), 9.2(b), and 9.2(d), which require worksite managers to ensure power tools and equipment are kept in safe and proper condition, and operated safely.

It was further contended that the violations demonstrated a failure on the part of the property owner to ensure adequate and reasonable protection – as required by § 240(1) of the New York Labor Law – and that the property owner violated general workplace safety requirements per Labor Law § 200. The alleged violations stem from the plaintiffs’ claims that the power saw’s splitter and blade guard were removed. Though the saw was provided by the plaintiff’s employer, it was argued that the property owner should not have permitted use of the saw with protective components removed.

The defendant impleaded the plaintiff’s employer and the tenant of the apartment which was being renovated, claiming the employer controlled and directed the plaintiff’s work duties, and that the plaintiff was performing work outside of the main renovation project per the tenant’s request. The third-party claim was dropped and the employer’s attorneys assumed defense of the case.

In response, the defense argued the table had been fully intact when it was delivered, that the worksite supervisor claimed the plaintiff removed the blade guard and splitter, and that the plaintiff was told of over available tools that could have cut the small strip of wood in a safer manner.

The plaintiff sought reimbursement of a workers’ comp lien totaling $117,875, as well as compensation for past and future lost income and past and future pain and suffering arising from his hand injuries. These include a fracture of the second finger of his left hand, lacerations to the second, third, and fourth fingers of his left hand, and nerve damage in the second and third fingers. The plaintiff required debridement and irrigation of his wounds on two separate occasions, as well as a closed reduction on his fractured finger using percutaneous wire removed nearly two months after the procedure. He also underwent seven months of physical therapy two to three times per week.

The plaintiff further claimed lingering pain and numbers in two of his fingers, and that his injuries limited his ability to perform common tasks and prevented him from resuming work as a carpenter.

A report submitted by the defense’s expert medical surgeon argued the plaintiff’s claims of limitations in his hand were not consistent with his injuries, and that he had reasonably good strength when opposing his thumb to all fingers on his left hand. The defense argued the plaintiff was able to return to work.

Though each side moved for summary judgment of liability, a settlement was negotiated through mediation prior to any judgment. Ultimately, the insurer for the plaintiff’s employer agreed to pay $1 million in compensation, with the plaintiff remaining liable for the $100,000+ workers’ comp lien.

The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., is pleased to have secured this financial recovery for our client, and believe the case demonstrates our legal team’s ability to secure positive resolutions through a range of dispute resolution proceedings – whether it be mediation, out-of-court negotiations, or trial. Our firm is committed to fighting on behalf of injured workers in workers’ compensation and personal injury matters across New York, and has recovered over half a billion dollars in verdicts and settlements since 1983.