$2.15 Million Settlement for Fractured Wrist and Foot in Work-Related Accident

In a New York injury case, an HVAC worker fell from a ladder on the job and suffered fractures to his left calcaneus and left distal radius, ultimately requiring open reduction-internal fixation (ORIF) surgery on both his left wrist and left foot. Despite a vigorous defense, the attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy were able to secure a $2,150,000 settlement.

Court and County
Supreme, New York

Plaintiff Description
49-year-old HVAC Foreman who is of Ukrainian descent. Married with two children.

Description of Case
Our client was performing HVAC work at a commercial high-rise building on Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. The project involved the construction of a new restaurant that would span the first and second floors of the building. On the jobsite there was a 20-foot ladder that leaned against the building and was used by workers to get to the second floor. A rope was secured to the top of the ladder and the other end of the rope was tied to an industrial beam on the second floor, which kept the ladder from falling or shifting. There was also a stairwell and freight elevator which workers could use to get to the second floor, but the ladder was most convenient and used most often.

After a few weeks on the jobsite, the foreman for the general contractor of the construction project instructed the ladder must be moved and not used because it was unsafe. Our client never received any explanation about why this ladder was suddenly unsafe. After about a week, however, the ladder was put back where it once was and began to be used by workers again. The foreman for the general contractor did not comment on this even though he was well aware that the ladder was in use again.

On the day of the accident, our client tried climbing the ladder despite the fact that he had coffee in his hand. As he got close to the top of the ladder, he could feel it shifting and realized that it was no longer secured by the rope, even though it had been secure just one day ago and our client never received instructions that the rope should or was going to be removed. Our client conceded that he was not supposed to climb the ladder with something in his hand, and that he could have used the stairwell or freight elevator if he had been made aware that the ladder was not safe to use.

We alleged a violation of Labor Law 240(1) because the general contractor owned the ladder and should have been responsible for securing it to the building. The defense argued that our client was the sole proximate cause of the accident because he had allegedly been warned not to use the ladder. Defendant medical experts also argued that our client's injuries did not prevent him returning to his previous job installing HVAC units.

Injuries
Our client crashed to the concrete floor and immediately knew something was wrong. He had intense pain in his left leg and left arm, which he described as dizzying and very intense. He was quickly taken to Lenox Hill Hospital and diagnosed with a comminuted fracture of his left calcaneus and a comminuted, intra-articular displaced fracture of the left distal radius. To treat these injuries, an open reduction-internal fixation surgery was performed on both the left wrist and left foot injury.

Settlement Amount
$2,150,000

Handling Attorneys
This matter was handled by Partners Stephen J. Murphy and David L. Scher.