Window Washer Recovers For Fractures After Fall
Attorneys from Block O'Toole & Murphy:
David L. Scher & Stephen J. Murphy
Facts & Allegations
This accident occurred on June 6, 2010 at 8a.m., while Plaintiff was washing the 2nd floor exterior windows of an office building located at 30 West 26th Street in Manhattan. The Plaintiff was wearing a window washer's belt with hooks, which he used to suspend himself from the exterior of the building by attaching the belt to a bolt on the building's exterior, which was located on a mullion between two window frames. The bolt suddenly pulled out of the wall, causing Plaintiff to fall approximately 15-20 feet to the ground below. Plaintiff alleged violations of New York Labor Law Sections 240(1) and 202 against the building owner and the 2nd floor tenant.
The defense vigorously contested liability. First, the defense experts, after examining the bolt and the wall of the building, opined that the bolt produced by Plaintiff during discovery in this lawsuit could not have actually come from the Defendant building as alleged by the Plaintiff. The defense also obtained sworn testimony from Plaintiff's boss, who stated that he had instructed the Plaintiff prior to the accident to not use the building bolts because they were dangerous. The building's Superintendent was present for this conversation, and confirmed during his deposition that he overheard Plaintiff receive the instruction from his boss to avoid using the bolts because they were dangerous. Based on this, the Defense pursued a "recalcitrant worker" defense, arguing that Plaintiff's fall was the result of his willful disobedience of a specific safety instruction. Furthermore, the Defense faulted Plaintiff for employing unsafe and unnecessary methods to wash the windows. In this regard, the defense expert engineers claimed that Plaintiff could have simply and safely performed the window washing with a ladder and pole, both of which Plaintiff admittedly had available to him at the time of this accident, which would have avoided the need to utilize the belt and hooks at all.
Plaintiff's injuries included multiple fractures to his left arm, pelvis and hip. Plaintiff underwent two open reduction / internal fixation surgeries in the days following the accident at Bellevue Hospital, one to his left arm and one to his left hip. Plaintiff also underwent several irrigation and debridement procedures to clean the wound to his left arm. Ultimately, Plaintiff had another procedure during which some of the hardware in his left arm that had become painful was removed. Plaintiff also developed an infection to his left arm, which was ultimately treated with antibiotics.
The defense conceded that Plaintiff suffered the left arm, pelvis and hip fractures in the fall, but contended that Plaintiff had made an excellent recovery before the time of settlement. The defense planned to call witnesses at trial who had observed Plaintiff walking around his neighborhood and engaging in leisure activities. Plaintiff also had suffered a prior lumbar injury, which led to a lawsuit, and which had disabled him from full time employment and led to a prior recommendation for back surgery.
Plaintiff was unable to pursue any claims for lost earnings in this lawsuit based on difficulties associated with Plaintiff's prior work history. Plaintiff did claim damages for past and future medical costs, and for his pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
The parties negotiated a $2,250,000 pretrial settlement.
If you were hurt after a fall at your job, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact our attorneys today to discuss your claim.▶ Block O'Toole & Murphy has been featured on the cable television program Insider Exclusive.