Result: Dock Builder Injured on the Job

$7,986,908 Jury Verdict for an Injured Construction Worker

On Nov. 28, 2006, our client, a 46-year-old union-affiliated carpenter, was working at a construction site that was located at 246 Spring St., in the SoHo section of Manhattan. During the construction of a building’s foundation, workers installed steel piles that were intended to support the structure that would later be built. Each pile’s strength was being tested by its ability to support a two-ton block that was being hoisted about the site by a crane. Our client was struck by the hoisted block, and he sustained injuries of a foot.

He sued the project’s general contractor, the subcontractor that was overseeing construction of the foundation, the premises’ owner, and the premises’ former owner. Our client alleged that the defendants violated the New York State Labor Law.

Counsel for the plaintiff claimed that the hoisting activity was not properly or safely performed. They contended that the load should have been secured via a “tag line,” which is the basic equivalent of a leash that allows a worker’s control of a hoisted object. They claimed that the incident stemmed from an elevation-related hazard, as defined by Labor Law 240(1), and that the defendants did not provide the proper, safe equipment that is a requirement of the statute.

Defense counsel contended that the plaintiff’s counsel failed to establish that the accident stemmed from an elevation-related hazard. He noted that our client was struck while he was seated atop a pile that was protruding two to three feet out of the ground. He further noted that the hoisted block struck one of our client’s feet, and, as such, he contended that there was little or no differential in height between our client and the hoisted object.

Plaintiff’s counsel moved for summary judgment of liability, but the motion was denied. They appealed, and the appellate division, First Department, reversed. The First Department opined that an elevation differential cannot be considered de minimis when the object being hoisted is capable of generating an extreme amount of force. The court granted summary judgment in our client’s favor, and the matter proceeded to a trial that addressed damages.

Nature of the Injuries

Our client sustained a comminuted, displaced, intra-articular fracture of his right foot’s calcaneus, which is the heel; a fracture of the same foot’s navicular bone, which is a small bone that lies on the upper portion of the foot, immediately in front of the ankle; and a fracture of the same foot’s cuneiform, which is a small bone that lies at the base of the foot’s second metatarsal.

He was transported to St. Vincent’s Hospital Staten Island, in Richmond County, though he was quickly transferred to another facility, where his fractures were addressed via closed reduction and the application of a cast. He subsequently underwent physical therapy.

Our client developed residual arthritis of his right foot’s calcaneocuboid joint, which is a relatively immobile joint that lies immediately in front of the heel. In April 2009, he underwent fusion of the joint. Our client claimed that he remains susceptible to additional arthritic changes that could necessitate fusion of other portions of his right foot. He contended that he retains an antalgic gait, which is a compensatory alteration of one’s gait, and that he requires the use of a cane and an orthopedic boot. He also contended that he requires extensive physical therapy.

Our client further claimed that his residual effects prevent his resumption of work. He contended that he would have worked beyond the age of 65.

Our client sought recovery of a total of $9,328,450 for past and future medical expenses, past and future lost earnings and benefits, and past and future pain and suffering.

Defense counsel contended that our client suffered a pre-existing back injury that required medication and would have forced his retirement at age 55. He suggested that our client’s economic losses would total $2,419,622.


The trial lasted a total of 12 days, and after the jury deliberated for three hours, they ruled in favor of our client.

  • $51,687 Personal Injury: Past Medical Cost
  • $350,000 Personal Injury: Future Medical Cost
  • $420,181 Personal Injury: Past Lost Earnings Capability
  • $3,000,000 Personal Injury: Past Pain And Suffering
  • $1,000,000 Personal Injury: Future Pain And Suffering
  • $120,000 Personal Injury: future cost of physical therapy
  • $388,041 Personal Injury: future cost of in-home care
  • $1,000,000 Personal Injury: future loss of benefits (until age 66)
  • $1,657,000 Personal Injury: future lost earnings (until age 66)

The case settled after verdict for $7,250,000. Judge Barbara Jaffe presided over the case.