$2,500,000 Settlement in Third-Party Lawsuit for Demolition Worker Hurt on the Job

Our client was tasked with demolishing a ceiling as part of a renovation project. Unfortunately, he was not provided with a tall enough ladder or scaffold to perform the job, causing him to fall and injure his wrists and left foot. We filed a third-party lawsuit against the owner and general contractor for violations of Labor Law 240(1), and the case settled for $2,500,000.

Court and County
Supreme Court, New York County

Description of Plaintiff
Plaintiff, who was fifty-five at the time of the accident, was an undocumented non-union laborer employed to perform demolition work.

Description of Accident
Plaintiff was employed as a demolition worker at a construction project in Huntington, New York. The project was the renovation of a ground floor space for commercial use.

At the time of the accident, Plaintiff was tasked with demolishing a drop ceiling located inside the premises. The ceiling was about twelve to fourteen feet high. In order to reach the ceiling, Plaintiff had to stand on the top step of an 8-foot A-frame ladder. Although a scaffold was on site, it was not tall enough for him to reach the area of the ceiling that needed to be removed. There was also a twenty five-foot extension ladder on site, but there was no place to lean it because the area to be demolished was in the middle of an open space.

While Plaintiff was standing on the top step of the A-frame ladder, the ladder shifted, causing Plaintiff to fall to the ground below.

We argued that the owner and general contractor violated New York State Labor Law 240(1) by failing to provide an adequate safety device to perform the demolition work at an elevated height. Plaintiff moved for summary judgment pursuant to Labor Law 240(1), and Defendants cross moved seeking dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint, arguing that Plaintiff was the sole proximate cause of his accident. The Honorable Arthur Engoron, J.S.C., granted our motion for summary judgment and held that Defendants violated Labor Law 240(1). The matter was scheduled for a damages-only trial.

Injuries and Damages
Plaintiff fell to the floor with both arms extended to try and break his fall, and he was taken and admitted to St. Francis Hospital with complaints of pain in both wrists and his left ankle and heel.

At the hospital, Plaintiff underwent x-rays that revealed bilateral wrist fractures, a distal left fibula fracture and a left calcaneal fracture. He underwent an open reduction and internal fixation of both his left and right wrists. Thereafter, he was discharged to an inpatient rehabilitation center for approximately two weeks for physical and occupational therapy.

Following discharge, Plaintiff continued to follow up with his orthopedic surgeon and a pain management specialist. He also began a course of outpatient physical therapy.

Plaintiff also began treating with a foot and ankle specialist due to ongoing left foot and ankle pain. He ultimately required a left ankle and foot surgery that consisted of a left lateral wall calcanectomy, calcaneal osteotomy and open reduction and internal fixation. Following surgery, he experienced a post-operative infection that required a debridement procedure and IV antibiotics.

Despite surgical intervention and conservative care, Plaintiff continued to experience pain to his wrists and ankle and required the use of a cane to ambulate. He was not able to return to work.

Settlement Amount
The parties negotiated a $2,500,000 settlement during a mediation and prior to trial.

Handling Attorneys
Partners Jeffrey A. Block and S. Joseph Donahue handled this matter.