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Result: Rolling Scaffold Fall

$9,900,000 Settlement for a Union Laborer Who Fell from a Rolling Scaffold

The Perecman Firm achieved a $9,900,000 settlement for a Union Laborer who fell from a rolling scaffold. The plaintiff’s injuries included fracture, calcaneus/heel, open reduction, internal fixation, compression fracture, trigger point injection, fracture, vertebra, fracture, T12, fracture, L2, radicular pain / radiculitis. The case was handled in the New York Supreme Court.

On March 4, 2009, our client, 45, a union-affiliated laborer, worked at a construction site that was located at 1485 Pacific St., in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. During the course of his work, he fell off a scaffold. He plummeted about 10 feet, and he landed on a sidewalk. He claimed that he sustained injuries of his back and a heel.

The worker sued the premises' owner and the construction project's general contractor. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants violated the New York State Labor Law.

The plaintiff claimed that the defendant did not provide a safe means of ascending and descending the scaffold. He claimed that an attachable ladder, which would have provided safe access, had not yet been delivered to the work site. He claimed that he and other workers had to climb up and down the scaffold using its horizontal railings as steps. He also claimed that snow created slippery conditions that contributed to his fall.

The injured worker’s counsel contended that the incident stemmed from an elevation-related hazard, as defined by Labor Law 240(1), and that he 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 a ladder was available for the plaintiff’s use.

The plaintiff’s counsel moved for summary judgment of liability, and the motion was granted. Judge Jane Solomon found that the defendants violated Labor Law 240(1). Defense counsel appealed, but the appellate division, First Department, affirmed. The First Department noted that defense counsel did not produce evidence that the worker was aware of the availability of a ladder or the necessity of its use. The matter proceeded to damages.

Injuries Resulting from Scaffold Fall

The injured worker was transported to Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn. Doctors noted that he was suffering a fracture of his left foot's calcaneus, which is the heel. The fracture was addressed via open reduction and internal fixation.

The worker claimed that he also sustained compression fractures of his L2 and T12 vertebrae. He further claimed that the fractures caused radicular pain.

His fractures were addressed via the application of a Jewett brace, which prevents hyperextension of the patient's back. He also underwent years of pain management that included the administration of painkilling facet-block, nerve-block and trigger-point injections. In September 2012, he underwent implantation of an intrathecal pump, which delivers painkillers to the area surrounding the spinal canal.

The plaintiff claimed that he suffers residual pain and limitations that prevent his resumption of work. He further claimed that he cannot endure prolonged periods in which he is seated, standing or walking. He also claimed that he requires additional treatment.

The plaintiff sought recovery of past and future medical expenses, past and future lost earnings and benefits, and damages for past and future pain and suffering.

Defense counsel contended that the plaintiff’s spinal fractures predated the accident. He claimed that, during the injured worker’s initial hospitalization, he denied that he was suffering an injury of his back. Defense counsel also claimed that the plaintiff’s medical records indicate that he did not use painkillers during the immediate wake of the accident. He claimed that an MRI scan, performed several months after the accident, revealed degenerative conditions but no edema of the spine. He also claimed that the MRI scan did not reveal the nerve impingement that would be a necessary component of radicular pain.

The defense's vocational-rehabilitation expert submitted a report in which she opined that the plaintiff could undergo training that would allow him to perform sedentary work that would provide annual earnings of $40,000 to $60,000. She claimed that he possesses a sub-engineering degree and that he would require merely one year of education to become an engineer.

Award Details

The parties negotiated a pretrial settlement. The defendants' primary insurer tendered its policy, which provided $2 million of coverage, and the defendants' excess insurer agreed to pay $7.9 million, from a policy that provided $25 million of coverage. Thus, the settlement totaled $9.9 million.

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