$11,500,000 Settlement for Worker with Severe Injuries, Including Complex Regional Pain Syndrome in Wrist

Our client, a construction worker, suffered severe wrist injuries due to a defective circular saw that was missing its safety guard. The accident left him with multiple lacerated tendons in his left hand, and eventually led to Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) in his hand and wrist. Represented by Block O'Toole & Murphy Partners Daniel P. O'Toole and Scott Occhiogrosso, he received an $11,500,000 settlement.

Court and County
Supreme, Bronx

Plaintiff Description
Our client was 35 years old and working as a union construction worker on the day he was injured.

Description of Case
Our client was working on new construction of a high-rise building when he was tasked with using a handheld circular saw. Unfortunately, the saw he was provided was missing its safety guard and was therefore defective.

While he was using the saw to cut a piece of wood, however, he came upon a knot in the wood. Because a knot is usually denser than the wood around it, contacting a wood knot with a saw can cause the saw or wood to 'kick back,' which can be dangerous when proper safety devices are not in place.

Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened in this case, and when the blade hit the knot, the saw violently kicked and jumped out of the wood. Because there was no safety guard below the base plate, however, the saw (which was still spinning) cut deeply into our client's left wrist. This caused our client to drop the saw and fall backwards down a recently-poured concrete deck.

It was immediately clear to our client that he had suffered a severe injury, and he believes that he briefly lost consciousness after the accident occurred. As soon as he was able to, our client ran with a co-worker to flag down a cab, because he was in excruciating pain, was bleeding profusely, and did not want to wait for an ambulance to arrive.

A handheld saw like the one our client was using is supposed to have a safety guard that locks into place the instant the blade disengages from the wood. The fact that he was given a defective saw represented a clear violation of New York Labor Law 241(6). Had our client simply been supplied with a saw that was in proper working condition, this accident could have been avoided.

Injuries
Our client was admitted to the Bellevue emergency room with a lacerated forearm tendon and 10/10 pain, and was diagnosed with the following injuries:

  • Left forearm laceration over dorsal aspect with significant bleeding
  • Artery lacerated off the radial artery branch
  • Lacerated artery of the thumb

To treat these immediate injuries, numerous sutures were placed throughout the hand, fingers and wrist. Unfortunately, however, our client's medical problems were only just beginning, and over the next few months he was diagnosed with numerous complications and additional injuries.

  • Left superficial radial nerve lesion
  • Left median axonal nerve lesion
  • Herniated spinal discs at C6/7 and L4/5
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) in the left wrist
  • Severe reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) in the left hand and wrist

To help him deal with the severe and constant pain caused by the CRPS in his wrist, our client needed to have a stimulator implanted into his left hand. While this helped to improve his pain somewhat, our client was told that his hand would never be the same again, and that he would never be able to return to construction work. Later, it was found that his back injuries had also worsened significantly, and he had to undergo lumbar fusion surgery.

Settlement Amount
$11,500,000

Handling Attorneys
This matter was handled by Partners Daniel P. O'Toole and Scott Occhiogrosso