$5,500,000 for Truck Driver Injured in Elevator Accident

DATE OF SETTLEMENT: January 9, 2009 (settled after jury selection was completed)


On 5/7/2003, at approximately 8:00 p.m., Plaintiff Oscar Torres, a thirty-nine year old truck driver, was delivering office furniture to150 E. 42nd Street, New York, New York, when he was struck in the head, neck and back with the metal gate of a freight elevator. The location was a high rise building owned by Defendants 425 T35 FG LLC and Hiro Real Estate LLL and the elevator was being operated by Defendant American Building Maintenance Co. of NY employee Rafael Valdez.

At the time of the accident, the freight elevator was operated by Defendant Valdez. The elevator had two doors, including an exterior door and an interior metal gate. The interior metal gate closed in a downward direction, from top to bottom, when the elevator operator pressed a button located within the freight elevator.

At the time of the accident, Mr. Torres had loaded office furniture into the elevator and was walking into the elevator when Defendant Valdez pressed the button to close the interior metal gate. As a result of Defendant Valdez's negligence, the interior metal gate struck Mr. Torres in the head, neck and back and caused Mr. Torres to fall to the ground.


On May 8, 2003, one day after the accident, Mr. Torres presented to the emergency room at Lutheran Medical Center with complaints of head, neck and back pain. Mr. Torres was ultimately diagnosed with a herniation of the lumbar spine, at the L4/5 and L5/S1 levels. Mr. Torres underwent a course of conservative treatment, including physical therapy, which was unsuccessful.

On May 4, 2005 Mr. Torres underwent a lumbar decompression, however his complaints continued and, on July 26, 2005, he underwent a fusion of the lumbar spine.

Following the July 2005 surgery Mr. Torres underwent additional physical therapy and a series of lumbar epidural steroid injections. In August 2008, he had a temporary spinal cord stimulator placed, however he was not a candidate for a permanent spinal cord stimulator. Mr. Torres continued to utilize analgesics for pain relief. Plaintiff claimed that Mr. Torres would require future medical care during the course of his lifetime in the amount of $2,231,201.

At the time of the accident Mr. Torres worked as a truck driver making approximately $33,000,00 per year. Plaintiff alleged that Mr. Torres was unable to work in any capacity since the accident and would not able to resume any gainful employment during his lifetime. Plaintiff claimed future lost earnings and benefits in the amount of $2,301,810 to $3,181,810.

Defendants challenged the nature and extent of Plaintiff's claimed injuries. Defendants contended that Plaintiff made a good recovery from his injuries such that he would be able to obtain gainful employment. Defendants further argued that Plaintiff did not require the future medical care Plaintiff claimed.

The case was handled by Jeffrey Block and S. Joseph Donahue of Block O'Toole & Murphy.