$2,875,000 Settlement for Injuries Requiring Multiple Surgeries, Including a Non-fusion Discectomy

A 45-year-old worker was welding at a high-rise building in Midtown when he was struck in the back by a piece of wood which had fallen nearly 20 feet. The accident left him with a herniated disc in his lumbar spine, which ultimately required a non-fusion discectomy surgery. He also sustained a shoulder injury that required arthroscopic surgery. Represented by Partners Stephen Murphy and David Scher, he recovered a $2,875,000 settlement.

Court and County
New York State Supreme Court, Kings County.

Plaintiff Description
Our client was a 45-year-old welder on the date of incident.

Description of Accident
Our client was kneeling down and welding the base of a column during the construction of a new high-rise building in midtown Manhattan. Carpenters working on the level above him were cutting wood, and a piece of discarded lumber fell down through an unguarded opening in the floor and struck our client's back. The piece of lumber was 3" x 4"and was 3 to 4 feet long. It was dropped approximately 20 feet.

We claimed the Defendants violated New York Labor Law Section 240(1) by failing to protect our client from this falling object, including for allowing the opening through which it fell to be and remain unguarded. The defense claimed that our client had been previously specifically warned to move out of the way; a contention that our client and his co-worker denied. Defendants also claimed the accident fell outside the scope of the Labor Law's intended reach, and had filed a motion to that effect which was pending before the Court when the case settled.

Injuries
Our client was taken from the accident site to the emergency room and was admitted to the hospital for 1 week with complaints of severe back pain, as well as weakness and numbness in his left leg. An MRI revealed numerous spinal injuries:

  • At L4/5, posterior left paramedian disc extrusion with inferior migration of the extruded disc material into the left lateral recess producing neural impingement of the descending L5 nerve root
  • At L5/S1, small central posterior disc protrusion and posterior annular tear
  • At L3/4, posterior annular bulging and posterior annular tear, epidural lipomatosis and mild thecal sac narrowing

To treat the herniation at the L4/5 level, our client underwent a lumbar spine surgery which involved a discectomy without fusion. He subsequently underwent multiple epidural injections and physical therapy.

Our client also injured his left shoulder, and underwent arthroscopic surgery during which sublabral and radial SLAP tears were diagnosed, as well as impingement. Our client never returned to work after the accident, and we claimed, with support from his treating and expert physicians, that he was totally and permanently disabled from employment by his injuries. We claimed future damages for his lost earnings and expected related future medical costs, as well as his pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.

Settlement
This case settled prior to trial for $2,875,000.

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