$4,000,0000 Settlement After Ankle Fusion Surgery Caused by Ladder Fall

Our client was on an A-frame ladder in order to install new awnings on the exterior of a building. But the ladder wasn't secured, causing our client to fall after losing his balance while drilling. Represented by Block O'Toole & Murphy, our client alleged violations of the Scaffold Law and was awarded a $4 million settlement.

Court and County
New York County Supreme Court

Plaintiff Description
Our client was 33 years old and working as a sign installer on the day of the accident.

Description of Case
Our client was working on a store renovation project which included gutting the interior, removing awnings, disconnecting transformers, and hanging signage. No site safety plans were in effect, no safety meetings were held, and no safety equipment was provided.

Our client went outside with a co-worker to install new awnings. First, his co-worker went up on a 6-foot A-frame ladder to mark where our client would drill to install anchors for the new awnings. Because the ladder was not secured in any way, our client held the ladder to stabilize it while his co-worker ascended it. The sidewalk outside of this building had a notable downwards pitch to it.

Once the necessary markings were made, our client ascended the ladder with a drill that weighed about 30 pounds and required both hands to use. With both of his hands occupied, he straddled the top of the ladder to stabilize himself. He began to drill but lost his balance when the drill struck a piece of rebar, causing the drill to reverse and our client to fall 8-10 feet to the ground.

Our client alleged violations of NY State Labor Law 240 (1) (more popularly known as the Scaffold Law) and 241(6), because the ladder was not secured and was not the appropriate device for the job. The Defendants argued that there was nothing wrong with the ladder itself and that it was improperly placed, and thus that our client was the sole proximate cause of his accident.

Ultimately, summary judgement was granted to our client on his Scaffold Law claim.

Injuries
As a result of his fall, our client lost consciousness and had clearly suffered a broken ankle. He was taken from the scene by emergency services and brought to the Elmhurst Hospital Center. While he was there, he was diagnosed with the following injuries:

  • Left ankle pilon fracture
  • Comminuted fracture of the distal tibia extending through the medial malleolus
  • Downward and lateral displacement of the remaining tibia

Within 24 hours, he underwent surgery to install an external fixator to the left ankle. A month later, he had the external fixator removed and underwent an open reduction-internal fixation surgery on the ankle.

When a doctor advised that the ankle bones weren't healing as fast as they expected, our client had a bone stimulator installed. He was also advised that there were already signs of post-traumatic arthritis, and that there was some nerve damage running behind the knee and radiating downwards.

Eventually, due to ongoing pain and a continued inability to walk, our client underwent four additional surgeries to his ankle, including ankle fusion surgery. He made a claim for future medical expenses.

Settlement Amount
$4,000,000

Handling Attorneys
This matter was handled by Michael J. Hurwitz and Partner Stephen J. Murphy.