$5,885,000 Jury Verdict for Undocumented Worker in Construction Accident Case

COURT AND COUNTY

Supreme Queens

DESCRIPTION OF PLAINTIFF

Our client, who was 35 years old at the time of the accident, was an undocumented, non-union laborer employed to do general carpentry work.

DESCRIPTION OF CASE

Our client was employed at a construction site in Astoria, Queens. The project was to renovate a café, a 1-story commercial building, which first involved a demolition of the interior of the building.

He was tasked with painting an L-beam that ran horizontally across the ceiling. This beam was about 18-20 feet from the floor. In order to reach this height, our client was instructed to place a 10-foot wooden A-frame ladder on top of a 5-foot high Baker rolling scaffold. The wheels of the scaffold were locked at this time.

He climbed up to the 5th step of the ladder and was painting for a few minutes with no issues. Suddenly, and without apparent reason, the scaffold moved, causing the ladder to tip over, sending our client crashing to the floor and landing on his right side.

Our client was then driven by his foreman to Mt. Sinai Hospital of Queens with complaints of excruciating pain in his right arm, as well as deformity and swelling in his wrist. His wife did not learn of the accident until our client returned home that day, by which point he already had a cast on and was on painkillers for the excruciating pain that he was in.

Plaintiff moved for summary judgment on the issue of liability pursuant to Labor Law 240(1). By decision, the Honorable James J. Golia granted the Plaintiff's summary judgment motion on the issue of liability.

INJURIES AND DAMAGES

Our client suffered severe wrist, arm and back injuries as a result of his fall and had to undergo multiple surgeries including:

  • Two closed reduction procedures to his right wrist before ultimately being compelled to undergo surgery requiring open reduction and internal fixation. Since then our client's right wrist and hand are very weak and have limited mobility and range of motion with occasional shooting pain. He can no longer make a fist with his right hand.
  • Lumbar spine fusion to levels L3-4 and L4-5 due to pain caused by the disc herniations at those levels. Since then he has constant low back pain, which has not improved since his surgery. He also suffers radiating pain and numbness to his right leg multiple times a day.

In addition to these surgeries, our client was forced to undergo extensive physical therapy, make many doctor and hospital visits, and take numerous medications such as Naxproxen, Licoderm, Hydrocodone and Oxycodone.

Despite this extensive medical attention, our client was not able to fully recover. He began to have problems doing simple things such as sleeping, carrying his baby (he has 3 children), showering and writing. This forced our client's wife to take on a much larger portion of household responsibilities, and also have to answer such sad and awkward questions from their children as "what's wrong with Dad? Why doesn't he want to ride bikes anymore?"

As a result of his injuries, our client was not able to return to work and continued to deal with debilitating pain in his wrist and back.

VERDICT

The jury returned a verdict for $5,885,000, slightly more than our client had requested during summation.

ATTORNEYS

This case was handled by Stephen J. Murphy.