On July 16, 1998, the plaintiffs worked at a worksite in the Bronx. The men were asked to paint a high portion of the building, so they climbed to the top of a scaffold that had been provided by the defendant. The scaffold collapsed, and they fell approximately 15 feet. One plaintiff claimed that he sustained a lumbar-disc herniation and other injuries. The other plaintiff claimed that he sustained multiple fractures, a disc herniation and other injuries.
The plaintiffs sued the store's operator and the building's owner. They alleged that the defendants violated Labor Law 240(1).
The defendants commenced a third-party suit against the plaintiffs' employer. The third-party suit resulted in a pretrial settlement involving the store’s operator and its employer. Terms were not disclosed.
The plaintiffs moved for pretrial summary judgment. They claimed that the incident was an elevation-related accident, as defined by Labor Law 240(1), and that they were not provided proper equipment, as required by the statute. Specifically, they contended that the scaffold was not safe.
The defendants presented a recalcitrant-worker defense. They contended that the plaintiffs were told that they were not supposed to use the store owner’s scaffold, but that they ignored the instructions. As such, the defendants argued that the plaintiffs were entirely responsible for the accident. The judge, and he granted the plaintiffs' summary judgment motion. The trial addressed damages.
The plaintiffs were placed in an ambulance and transported to a hospital in the Bronx.
One plaintiff claimed that he sustained a disc herniation at L5-S1. He contended that he also sustained injuries that resulted in impingement of his right (dominant) shoulder and neuropathy of his left ulnar nerve. His expert orthopedist opined that the injuries were causally related to the accident.
The plaintiff’s herniation was repaired via a laminectomy--the excision of a vertebra's posterior arch. He subsequently underwent several months of physical therapy.
The plaintiff claimed that his injuries constituted a permanent partial disability that prevents his resumption of work. The plaintiff’s vocational-rehabilitation expert agreed that the plaintiff can no longer procure work in the competitive job market.
The plaintiff sought recovery of his past and future medical expenses, his past and future lost wages, and damages for his past and future pain and suffering. His wife presented a loss-of-consortium claim.
The other plaintiff claimed that he sustained a fracture of his right (dominant) wrist; a compound, comminuted fracture of his left elbow; a disc herniation at L5-S1; a laceration of his chin; and six tooth fractures. He contended that he subsequently developed traumatic seizure disorder.
The plaintiff’s herniation was repaired via a laminectomy. His wrist fracture was treated via closed reduction. His elbow fracture was repaired via open reduction and internal fixation. He subsequently underwent hardware-removal surgery.
The plaintiff claimed that his injuries constitute a permanent disability that prevents his resumption of work. His internal-medicine expert and his treating orthopedist agreed. The orthopedist added that the plaintiff will require lumbar-fusion surgery and surgical transposition of his left ulnar nerve.
The plaintiff sought recovery of his past and future medical expenses, a total of approximately $3 million in past and future lost wages, and damages for his past and future pain and suffering. His wife presented a loss-of-consortium claim. The plaintiff’s family requested a $10 million award.
The defendants contended that one plaintiff healed well and that he can resume work. Their expert neuropsychologist could not conclusively determine that the other plaintiff’s seizure disorder was related to the accident. The expert also opined that the plaintiff’s herniation was the sole product of a degenerative condition that preexisted the accident.
The defendants also contended that the plaintiff can resume work. They presented a surveillance videotape in which the plaintiff installed a wall-mounted mailbox.
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