$5,500,000 Settlement for Worker Harmed in Freight Elevator Accident

A 39-year-old truck driver was delivering office furniture to a commercial building in New York City. As he was loading furniture into the freight elevator, the elevator operator pressed a button to close the metal gate. Our client was struck in the head, neck, and back by the metal gate and suffered serious spinal injuries as a result. Represented by Partners Jeffrey Block and S. Joseph Donahue, he received a $5.5 million settlement.

Description of Case

At approximately 8:00 p.m., Plaintiff, a 39-year-old truck driver, was delivering office furniture to 150 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, Plaintiff 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 Plaintiff in the head, neck and back and caused him to fall to the ground.

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Injuries/Damages
One day after the accident, Plaintiff was presented to the emergency room at Lutheran Medical Center with complaints of head, neck and back pain. Plaintiff was ultimately diagnosed with a herniation of the lumbar spine, at the L4/5 and L5/S1 levels. He underwent a course of conservative treatment, including physical therapy, which was unsuccessful.

Two years after the incident, Plaintiff underwent a lumbar decompression, however his complaints continued and close to two months later, he underwent a fusion of the lumbar spine.

Following the lumbar fusion surgery, Plaintiff underwent additional physical therapy and a series of lumbar epidural steroid injections. Three years after the surgery, he had a temporary spinal cord stimulator placed; however, he was not a candidate for a permanent spinal cord stimulator. Plaintiff continued to utilize analgesics for pain relief. He claimed he would require future medical care during the course of his lifetime in the amount of $2,231,201.

At the time of the accident, Plaintiff worked as a truck driver making approximately $33,000 per year. He 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.

Settlement Amount
$5,500,000 (settled after jury selection was completed)

Attorneys
The case was handled by Partners Jeffrey A. Block and S. Joseph Donahue.