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Result: $3.6 Million Settlement for Union Welder Struck by Falling Shackle

The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. obtains $3,662,500 mediated settlement for union welder who was struck in an elevator shaft by a shackle that had fallen from a hoist.

The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. Attorney Adam Hurwitz was successful in negotiating a six-figure settlement through mediation for a client who suffered a traumatic brain injury and other physical injuries after being struck by a falling steel shackle.

The plaintiff was a 61-year-old union-affiliated welder who was working on a renovation site in the Bronx at the time of the incident. While removing steel in the lower portion of an elevator shaft, he was struck by a steel shackle that had fallen out of a hoist from approximately 200 feet above.

Injuries & Treatment

The plaintiff suffered a loss of consciousness from being struck by the shackle. Radiological studies revealed the following injuries:

  • A depressed skull fracture and concussion
  • Laceration of the brain’s frontal lobe
  • An epidural hematoma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, and subdural hematoma
  • Resultant brain damage
  • Injuries to his right dominant shoulder, rotator cuff, and bicep
  • Injuries to the right wrist and elbow

The plaintiff claimed that the brain injury left him with residual vision and hearing impairment and post-concussion syndrome and that injuries to his shoulder led to the development of bursitis and osteoarthritis. He further claimed that he developed carpal tunnel syndrome in his wrist and bursitis, tendonitis, synovitis, cubital tunnel syndrome, and lateral epicondylitis in his elbow.

The plaintiff underwent a craniotomy to remove a portion of his skull, excavate the hematoma and hemorrhage, and remove bone fragments, and a cranioplasty, and was hospitalized for four days. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder and surgical transposition of his right arm’s ulnar nerve.

The plaintiff had not worked since his accident and claimed that residual pain and limitations prevented his performance of any type of work. He sought reimbursement of a workers’ compensation lien totaling $230,000 and a recovery of damages for lost earnings, benefits, and pain and suffering.

Claims

A lawsuit filed against the renovation project’s general contractor and the site’s owners claimed that the defendants negligently failed to provide a safe workplace in violation of New York State Labor Law. Specifically, it alleged:

  • The accident arose from an elevation-hazard as defined by Labor Law § 240(1), and the plaintiff was not provided proper equipment as required by the statute.
  • The defendants failed to ensure reasonable and adequate protection as required by Labor Law § 241(6).
  • The defendants violated Labor Law § 200 related to general workplace safety requirements.

Plaintiff’s counsel contended that the accident resulted from misuse of the hoist, and that surveillance video indicated workers had overridden the hoist’s automatic-stop function and were not monitoring the hoist’s operation.

The defense argued that the plaintiff had been directed to avoid working below areas where hoisting was taking place.

The defendant general contractor impleaded a subcontractor which oversaw use of the hoist, a subcontractor that provided workers for the project, and the plaintiff’s employer, alleging that the subcontractors negligently failed to ensure safe operation of the hoist and that the plaintiff’s employer controlled and directed his work functions. It was further alleged that the hoist’s hook became snared during a descent through the shaft, resulting in an unintended release of the shackle.

Result

The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. was successful in negotiating a pre-trial, mediated settlement with the hoist subcontractor ($1 million from primary insurance and $2.48 million from excess insurer), the plaintiff’s employer ($150,000), and the labor subcontractor ($20,000).

The settlement also included a waiver of the workers’ compensation lien and an agreement from the workers’ compensation insurer to contribute an additional $12,500 in indemnity benefits, thereby bringing the total settlement to $3,662,500.

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