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$1,300,000 Result for Manhattan Worker Who Suffered Near Blindness When Screw from Screw Gun Struck his Eye

In December of 2018, our client, a carpenter, was working on a Manhattan job site installing a door frame with a screw gun. While using the electric screw gun, a piece of a screw penetrated his eyeball. He denied being provided with any eye protection; however, the defense claimed it was made available to him. He lost nearly all vision in one eye and has since undergone three procedures, including a corneal transplant. This was an exceptionally difficult labor law case. Four attorneys rejected the case before our office was retained. The owners of the property were exempt from liability under a labor law exception and the general contractor they hired left the country. We were able to successful pursue another contractor whose license the general contractor used to pull permits. There was no lost earning claim. Represented by Partners Daniel O’Toole and Pawel Wierzbicki and Associate Joshua Stern, our client received a $1,300,000 settlement despite no claim for lost earnings and future medical costs.

Court and County
Supreme Court, Kings County

Description of Case
The case arose out of an accident wherein a screw propelled by an electric screw gun penetrated the eyeball of the then 41-year-old Plaintiff while he was performing carpentry work at a construction project. Although the defense claimed eye protection was provided, Plaintiff denied being offered any. We sued under Labor Law §241(6) which requires owners and contractors to comply with the Industrial Code. Industrial Code Section §23-1.8(a), provides, in full, as follows:

(a) Eye protection. Approved eye protection equipment suitable for the hazard involved shall be provided for and shall be used by all persons while employed in welding, burning or cutting operations or in chipping, cutting or grinding any material from which particles may fly, or while engaged in any other operation which may endanger the eyes.

This case was especially challenging because the homeowners were not subject to liability due to a homeowner’s exception to the Labor Law and Plaintiff could be comparatively negligent for failure to protect his eyes and misuse of the machine. The case was so challenging that four attorneys rejected the case before we were retained. The general contractor that the homeowners hired to work on the job site left the country following the job; however, he had used another general contractor’s license to pull permits. As a result, we sued the contractor whose license he used. This was challenging because he was not under contract, had no presence at the job site, and our client never heard of the company; however, we were able to develop enough evidence between permits, citations, and pleas to citations for job site violations to create risk for the insurance company insuring this Defendant under the Labor Law. 

Plaintiff’s injuries are both physical and psychological. He has lost approximately 80 percent of all sight in one eye from the screw that penetrated his eyeball. Due to his awful circumstances, he now suffers from depression and anxiety. Plaintiff underwent three procedures because of the accident which were, unfortunately, unsuccessful in restoring his vision: (1) Diagonal Corneal Laceration Repair, (2) Cataract Surgery, and (3) Corneal Transplant.

Following the screw entering his eye, in fear of the damage it would do to him, Plaintiff unscrewed it from his eyeball with his own hands. He was taken to an emergency room then exigently transferred to another for emergency surgery.  He woke up from the procedure unclear if he would lose his eyesight. He experienced unbearable pain from an inflammation in his eye and a few weeks later underwent his next surgery. In between those surgeries, when he was not bandaged, he was only able to see shadows for a very short distance. He also experienced crippling headaches. Even after his most recent corneal transplant surgery, he still suffers from light sensitivity and explains his vision as if he is always looking through a cloud; however, there is hope his vision will improve over time. Claims for future medical treatment costs and lost earnings were not asserted.

Defendants hired their own experts to evaluate Plaintiff. Their ophthalmologist opined that Plaintiff’s vision was nowhere near as bad as the Plaintiff testified to or his doctors asserted it was.  Their psychologist likewise disputed Plaintiff’s diagnosis of clinical depression and post-traumatic anxiety.

Settlement Amount
The parties resolved this case at a private mediation for $1,300,000.

Handling Attorneys
The case was handled by Partners Daniel O’Toole and Pawel Wierzbicki and Associate Joshua Stern.

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