At about 5:20 a.m. on Feb. 6, 2007, the plaintiff, a union-affiliated engineer who operated tower cranes, worked at a construction site in Manhattan. The plaintiff slipped while he was descending a ladder that was affixed to one side of a tower crane. He fell off of the ladder, plummeted some 14 feet and landed on a steel deck. He claimed that he sustained an injury of a shoulder.
The plaintiff sued the construction project's general contractor; a subcontractor that installed the crane's electrical system, and the premises' owners. He alleged that the defendants violated the New York State Labor Law.
The plaintiff claimed that the accident was a result of cold, dark conditions. The crane and its ladder were typically heated and illuminated electrically, but the electrical system was not functioning at the time of the accident. The plaintiff also claimed that the ladder's rungs were small and slippery. His counsel contended that the rungs should have been corrugated, dimpled or knurled or that a skid-resistant material should have been applied. The plaintiff further claimed that he was not provided a safety line or any other equipment that could have prevented his fall or his injuries.
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. They also contended that the defendants failed to provide proper safeguards, as required by Labor Law 241(6), and that the defendants violated Labor Law 200, which defines general safety requirements.
Defense counsel contended that the work site was reasonably safe and that the accident was a result of the plaintiff’s decision to descend the ladder during dark conditions.
The plaintiff did not seek immediate medical attention, though he did not complete a full day of work. After 91 days had passed, he presented to a doctor. A subsequent MRI scan revealed that the plaintiff was suffering a partial tear of his left shoulder's supraspinatus tendon, which is an element of the rotator cuff. The plaintiff claimed that the injury was a product of the accident.
On Sept. 20, 2007, the plaintiff underwent arthroscopic surgery that addressed his left shoulder. The surgeon reported having observed a massive rupture of the rotator cuff, a tear of the rotator cuff's subscapularis muscle, a tear of the supraspinatus tendon, and near-complete retraction of the tendons that covered the shoulder's acromioclavicular and humeral components. The damage could not be repaired, so the plaintiff underwent a second surgery, a latissimus dorsi transfer, in which one of his chest's muscles was reconfigured to provide support for his left shoulder. The plaintiff subsequently underwent about 36 months of physical therapy.
The plaintiff claimed that he suffers residual pain and severe residual limitations that prevent his resumption of physical labor. He has not worked since September 2007. He also claimed that his residual effects hinder his performance of his everyday activities.
The plaintiff sought recovery of past and future lost earnings and damages for past and future pain and suffering. His wife presented a derivative claim.
Defense counsel contended that the plaintiff exaggerated the extent of his injuries and limitations. They also contended that the plaintiff aggravated his initial injury by continuing to work for several months.
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