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$10,500,000 Settlement in Wrongful Death Case After Union Laborer Dies in a Defective Saw Accident

Plaintiff, a 50-year-old union laborer, was working on a water main installation project in Staten Island when a defective saw he was equipped with suddenly kicked back, striking him in the neck. Plaintiff was rushed to Richmond University Medical Center by EMS but went into cardiac arrest and lost consciousness on the way. Unfortunately, despite exhaustive attempts to revive him, Plaintiff tragically died as a result of his injury. Represented by BOM Partners Jeffrey Block and Joseph Donahue, the Plaintiff’s family was able to obtain $10,500,000 in compensation.

Court and County
Supreme Court, Richmond County

Age and Occupation of Plaintiff
At the time of his death, Plaintiff was a 50-year-old union laborer. He was married to his wife, who is now 54 years old, for thirty years and the couple had three adult children, ages 31, 30, and 25.

Description of Case
The accident occurred during the installation of water mains in a roadway in Staten Island, New York. Plaintiff was employed as a union laborer for a company hired to remove the existing water mains and replace the water mains with new pipes.

At the time of the accident, Plaintiff was in an excavation trench cutting a water main pipe with a Husqvarna 760 demolition saw. While cutting the pipe, the saw suddenly kicked back and the saw blade struck Plaintiff in the neck.

The saw Plaintiff was using was a portable, handheld, gas powered saw that did not come equipped with a table. While the saw had a fixed guard above the saw blade to protect the operator from coming into contact with the saw blade teeth, the saw did not come equipped with a self-adjusting guard below the blade that would also protect a worker from being cut by the saw blade. The demolition saw was known to kick back while being used.

It was claimed that the lack of a guard below the blade was a violation of the New York State Industrial Code, which requires such protection. Defendants countered that the Industrial Code did not apply to this particular saw and that the accident occurred because Plaintiff did not use the proper method while cutting the pipe, causing the saw to kick back and come into contact with his neck.

Description of Injuries/Damages
Plaintiff suffered a 12-centimeter laceration to the left anterior portion of his neck. The laceration resulted in significant bleeding due to the transection of his neck muscles, larynx, and left internal jugular. Co-workers applied pressure to his wound in an attempt to control the bleeding and EMS rushed to the scene. EMS technicians began performing life saving measures and rushed Plaintiff to Richmond University Medical Center. While on route to the hospital, Plaintiff went into cardiac arrest and lost consciousness. CPR was initiated with no success.

Upon arrival at the hospital Plaintiff was unconscious, was not breathing and had no pulse. He was intubated and an emergency thoracotomy was performed, whereby his chest was opened, and cardiac massage was attempted. He received epinephrine in an attempt to revive him. Despite the efforts of emergency personnel, they were not able to revive him and he tragically died from his injuries.

The surviving family made claims for decedent’s conscious pain and suffering, fear of impending death and damages for wrongful death. Claims for economic damages included loss of earnings, loss of retirement income, loss of health insurance, and the cost of household services that Plaintiff had performed while alive. The three surviving children, albeit adults, also made claims for loss of parental guidance that their father would have provided throughout their adult lives.

Defendants argued that Plaintiff’s conscious pain and suffering was limited in time as a result of a loss of consciousness due to cardiac arrest shortly following the accident. They also claimed that Plaintiff’s future earnings were not as great as alleged based upon fluctuations in past work history and that there was no valid claim for loss of parental guidance due to the ages of his children.

Settlement Amount
The case was settled at a mediation for $10,500,000.

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

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