Result: $2.15 Settlement for Worker Injured by Malfunctioning Lift

The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., secured a $2,150,000 settlement for a worker who was injured after a lift that was not properly inspected malfunctioned.

The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., represented a client who sustained compression of his T12 and L1 vertebrae, trauma that caused narrowing of the disc space at his spine’s L1 and L2 levels, and nonspecific injuries of his left shoulder and right elbow.

On Oct. 17, 2011, the plaintiff, a union-affiliated carpenter, worked at a construction site. He was bolting steel panels that were affixed to a wall, some 45 feet above the ground. He was working in a man lift’s bucket. During the course of the work, the bucket abruptly dropped a short distance. It stopped before it reached the ground, but the plaintiff claimed that he sustained injuries of his back, an elbow, a hip and a shoulder.

The plaintiff sued the premises’ owner and the construction project’s managers and general contractors. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants violated the New York State Labor Law.

The plaintiff’s counsel claimed that the accident was a result of a malfunction of one of the steel pistons that supported the lift’s bucket. They claimed that the piston was severely bent, and they contended that the device had not been properly inspected before it was provided to the plaintiff. They contended that the incident stemmed from an elevation-related hazard, as defined by Labor Law 240(1), and that the plaintiff was not provided the proper, safe equipment that is a requirement of the statute. They also contended that the defendants failed to provide or ensure reasonable and adequate protection, as required by Labor Law 241(6). They further contended that the defendants violated Labor Law 200, which defines general workplace-safety requirements.

Defense counsel contended that the plaintiff could not prove that the lift was defective or that its malfunction was caused by a piston. They contended that the accident could have been a result of improper operation of the lift.

The parties negotiated a pretrial settlement. The defendants’ insurer agreed to pay $2.15 million.