Result: Worker Fell 2 Floors

$9,359,622 for a Mason Worker Who Fractured His Feet and Knee in a 20-Foot Fall Through an Open Floor

The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., represented a mason worker who sustained the following injuries in a 20-foot fall through an open floor:

Injuries: Fracture Metatarsal, Lisfranc’s Fracture, Cuneiform Fracture, Cuboid Fracture, Comminuted Fracture, Fracture, Tibial Plateau, Torn Lateral Meniscus, Closed Reduction, Open Reduction, Internal Fixation, Chondroplasty, Scar Tissue, Physical Therapy, Fracture, Foot, Arthritis.

The case was handled in Bronx Supreme Court before Judge Nelson S. Roman.

Case Background

On March 3, 2006, our client, 51, a mason, worked at a construction site that was located at 15 E. Clarke Place, in the High Bridge section of the Bronx. He was working on the unfinished structure’s second floor. The floor had been framed, but the frame was not covered. A steel reinforcement bar snapped while the plaintiff was attempting to bend it, and he lost his balance and fell through the uncovered framework. He plummeted 20 to 25 feet, and he landed on his feet. He sustained injuries of his feet, a knee and a leg.

The injured worker sued the building’s owner, the construction project’s developer, and the project’s general contractor. He alleged that the defendants violated the New York State Labor Law.

The plaintiff claimed that the second floor was not protected by rails or a net and that he was not provided a safety line or any other type of equipment that could have prevented his fall. The plaintiff’s counsel 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. He moved for summary judgment of liability, and the motion was granted. The trial addressed damages.

Extent of the Injuries

The plaintiff claimed that he sustained a fracture of his left foot’s navicular bone, which is a small bone that lies on the upper portion of the foot, immediately in front of the ankle; a comminuted, depressed fracture of his left leg’s tibial plateau, which forms the lower portion of the knee; a tear of his left knee’s lateral meniscus; a fracture of his left foot’s fifth metatarsal; fractures of his right foot’s cuneiforms, which lie between the toes and the navicular bone; and a fracture of his right foot’s cuboid, which is a small bone that is situated at the bottom of the foot, in front of the heel. He further claimed that his right foot also sustained a Lisfranc’s fracture–a fracture and dislocation of one or more tarsometatarsals, which are bones that form a foot’s instep and articulate with the bases of the toes.

The plaintiff’s injured feet were addressed via closed reduction: the application of a cast. His left knee’s fracture was initially addressed via open reduction and internal fixation. After some six months had passed, the knee was the subject of a chondroplasty, which involved the release of residual scar tissue. His hospitalization lasted about four weeks, and he subsequently underwent about eight weeks of inpatient rehabilitation and more than 12 months of physical therapy.

The plaintiff contended that he suffers permanent residual injuries that include atrophy of his left leg’s calf and thigh, a deformity of the middle portion of his right foot, moderate arthritis of his left foot, and severe arthritis of his left knee and right foot. He claimed that his residual injuries were confirmed by the results of CT scans.

The plaintiff also claimed that his injuries will prevent his resumption of work. He contended that he had been an avid athlete who enjoyed judo and running, but that his injuries prevent his resumption of any such activities. He claimed that he requires constant medical and residential care and that he may eventually be confined to a wheelchair. An expert orthopedist opined that the plaintiff will have to undergo fusion of his right foot and a total replacement of his left knee.

The parties stipulated that the plaintiff’s past medical expenses totaled $159,622.34. The plaintiff sought recovery of that amount, his future medical expenses, his future residential-care expenses, and damages for his past and future pain and suffering.

The trial lasted two weeks and the jury deliberated for one hour before arriving at their decision to award the plaintiff:

  • $159,622 Personal Injury: Past Medical Cost
  • $1,700,000 Personal Injury: Future Medical Cost
  • $2,500,000 Personal Injury: Past Pain And Suffering
  • $5,000,000 Personal Injury: Future Pain And Suffering

The jury found that the damages totaled $9.2 million. Judge Nelson Roman added the stipulated medical expenses, so the final recovery totaled $9,359,622.34.