37 Year-Old Laborer Recovers $2,200,000 for Back Injury That He Sustained in an Accident on a Scaffold

On June 24, 2008, Plaintiff was working as a non-union laborer for Island Wide Site Development Corporation at a construction project at 9 College Place, Brooklyn, New York. The project was the demolition and renovation of five buildings for conversion from commercial to residential use. The location was owned by Defendant Love Lane Mews, LLC and the general contractor was Red Hook Construction.

At the time of the accident Plaintiff was performing demolition work on the fifth floor of building #3. Plaintiff was in the process of assembling a scaffold when Plaintiff lost his balance, stepped backwards and fell into an opening in the floor. The opening was not covered or safeguarded. Plaintiff's left leg went into the hole, up to his hip, with his upper body and head striking the edge of the hole and floor surrounding the hole. Plaintiff did not fall through the hole to the floor below.

Plaintiff alleged that the Defendants, as the owner and general contractor, violated Labor Law Sections 240(1), 241(6) and 200 in failing to securely cover or safeguard the opening in the floor. Plaintiff further alleged that the presence of the uncovered and unguarded opening in the floor was a violation of 12 NYCRR 23- 1.7(b) (1), 12 NYCRR 23-3.3 (c), 12 NYCRR 23-3.3 (j) (2) (I), 12 NYCRR 23-3.3 (j) (2) (ii), 12 NYCRR 23-3.3 (l) and 12 NYCRR 23-1.1, which require floor openings be covered and/or safeguarded.

Defendants claimed that Labor Law 240(1) and 241(6) were not applicable as Plaintiff did not fall completely through the hole to the floor below. Defendants further claimed that Labor Law 200 was inapplicable as Defendants did not control the means and methods of Plaintiff's work. Finally, Defendants claimed that Plaintiff was responsible for the happening of the accident by stepping into the uncovered and unguarded hole.

Plaintiff moved for Summary Judgment pursuant to Labor Law 240(1) and 241(6). The court denied Plaintiff's motion, finding an issue of fact existed as to whether the hole was of sufficient size such that Plaintiff body could have fallen through the opening to the floor below, thereby triggering the protections afforded under Labor Law 240(1) and 241(6). Defendants claimed that the hole was not of sufficient size to afford Plaintiff the protections under the Labor Law.

Plaintiff was taken from the scene via ambulance to Bellevue Hospital with complaints of pain to the neck, and back. P was treated and released. Thereafter, Plaintiff began a course of conservative treatment with physical therapy and pain management.

MRI's performed on 8/4/08 revealed a disc herniation of the lumbar spine at L5-S1 and a disc herniation of the cervical spine at C6-7. A 12/21/08 MRI of the Left Shoulder revealed a rotator cuff tear and anterior labrum tear.

Plaintiff's condition failed to improve through conservative treatment and, ultimately, Plaintiff underwent a left shoulder arthroscopy on June 24, 2009 and a Lumbar Fusion, at L5-S1, performed on July 9, 2009.

Plaintiff alleged that he was unable to return to gainful employment as a laborer following the accident and sought compensation for past and future loss of earnings. Plaintiff further alleged that Plaintiff required ongoing medical care and treatment.

Defendants alleged that Plaintiff recovered from his injuries, was able to return to work and did not require ongoing medical care and treatment.

The case was handled by S. Joseph Donahue and Jeffrey Block of Block O'Toole & Murphy.