$11 Million Settlement for Brooklyn Construction Worker Hurt on Job Site

In a Brooklyn construction accident case, a masonry foreman fell three stories to the basement after he stepped on an unsecured temporary cover placed over a hole in the floor. As a result of the incident, he suffered serious pelvic and spinal injuries that made him permanently disabled from all construction work. Represented by Partners Scott Occhiogrosso and Daniel O'Toole, he received an $11 million settlement package from the following defendants: the general contractor, the construction site owner, the steel subcontractor, and his employer.

Court and County
Supreme, Kings

Description of Case
Plaintiff was working as a masonry foreman on the construction of a new residential apartment building in Brooklyn. While supervising masons who were erecting a cinderblock wall on the structure's third floor, Plaintiff unwittingly stepped on an unsecured temporary cover placed over a hole in the concrete floor. The hole was there by design and would ultimately accommodate HVAC ventilation equipment. When Plaintiff stepped on the unsecured hole cover, it became dislodged causing Plaintiff to fall through the hole and land three stories below in the basement. Plaintiff suffered permanently disabling injuries to the pelvis and spine.

Block O'Toole & Murphy brought claims against the building owner, the general contractor on the project and the steel subcontractor. The claims against the owner and general contractor were based on Labor Law 240(1), which offers protection to construction workers injured due to elevation related risks. As against the steel subcontractor, Plaintiff brought a negligence claim alleging that the steel sub was responsible for securing temporary floor hole coverings and failed to do so.

The general contractor brought a third-party action against Plaintiff's employer alleging that the accident was caused by the company's negligence and that the severity of Plaintiff's injuries expose the worker's compensation carrier to liability.

The building owner argued that Plaintiff was not lawfully working at the site and as such the case should be dismissed. The general contractor argued that they only requested the general contractor permit from the New York City Department of Buildings, and that they were not actually on site supervising the manner in which the work was being performed on the date of the accident, and they therefore could not be found to have violated Labor Law 240(1). The steel subcontractor argued that there was insufficient evidence as a matter of law to find that they were responsible for the temporary floor covering and there was insufficient evidence to show that they failed to cover the hole properly.

Block O'Toole & Murphy made a motion for summary judgment, as did all the defendants. The defendants' motions were denied and as against the owner, Block O'Toole & Murphy was successful and the Court determined as a matter of law that Labor Law 240(1) was violated. The Court also determined that at trial the jury would determine the relative fault of the general contractor and the steel subcontractor. Additionally, the workers compensation lien of $439,833.13 was waived in its entirety by the New York State Insurance Fund.

Block O'Toole & Murphy retained a medical expert to offer an opinion as to the extent of Plaintiff's disability and the treatment Plaintiff would require over the course of his lifetime to address the accident-related injuries. The firm also retained an expert economist to offer an opinion as to the total cost of Plaintiff's future medical needs as well as Plaintiff's lost earnings due to his permanent disability from construction work.

Injuries/Damages
As a result of the accident, Plaintiff suffered multiple pelvic fractures requiring surgical procedures, including open reduction of the fractures with internal fixation by way of permanent operative hardware; burst fracture of L1 vertebra, multiple fractures of lumbar vertebrae L2-L5, requiring lumbar fusion surgery with implantation of caging operative hardware from the L1 vertebra all the way to the pelvis.

Plaintiff suffered permanent diminished use of his lower extremities and is only able to ambulate very limited distances with a walker.

Settlement Amount
Prior to trial, Block O'Toole & Murphy was successful in negotiating a settlement in the amount of $11,000,000, with the owner, the general contractor, the steel subcontractor and Plaintiff's employer all paying seven figures towards the total settlement package.

Attorneys
This case was handled by Partners Scott Occhiogrosso and Daniel O'Toole.