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$1,750,000 Settlement for Carpenter Permanently Injured After Fall Caused by Employer’s Unstable Ladder

Our client, a 49-year-old carpenter, was working on-site at a Watermill home installing kitchen cabinets. He complained several times about an unsafe and unstable 6-foot A-frame ladder; however, his employer failed to provide the safe workplace equipment that our client required. While our client was on top of the ladder, the ladder suddenly crashed to the ground, resulting in a severe injury to his heel. Partners Stephen Murphy and David Scher secured $1,750,000 for the client to compensate for lost wages, medical costs, and pain and suffering.

Court and County
Supreme Court, Suffolk County

Plaintiff Description
Our client was a 49-year-old man who was employed by subcontractor Cabinets By Design, Incorporated as a carpenter.

Description of Case
On the day of the accident, our client was installing kitchen cabinets in an unfinished home that was under construction. As he worked on the project, he realized that he would need to use a ladder to access the top cabinets. The only available ladder to our client was a 6-foot aluminum A-Frame ladder.

He was reluctant to use the ladder, as he had made several complaints to his employer in the past about its instability. Despite his prior complaints, Cabinets by Design Inc. failed to address his concerns about the wobbly nature of the ladder.

With no alternatives at his disposal, he was forced to use the dangerous equipment in order to access the kitchen’s top cabinets. Our client ascended the rungs of the ladder; as he stepped onto the third rung from the top, the unstable ladder suddenly lurched.

The ladder toppled over, crashing to the ground and bringing our client with it. He fell onto the floor, where he immediately experienced agonizing pain radiating from his right heel and ankle.

As he landed on the kitchen floor, our client landed awkwardly on his right foot which instantaneously caused extreme acute pain in his ankle. Emergency services took our client from the construction site to Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, where doctors determined that he suffered from a comminuted, displaced calcaneus fracture extending to the medial, posterior and anterior talar articular surface.

A fracture of the articular surface between the ankle and the heel is a rare injury that occurs when the heel is crushed under one’s body weight. Fractures such as these are known within the medical field to be very difficult fracture to heal.

Our client underwent physical therapy and began taking medication, but this did very little to help the excruciating pain he was suffering. After reporting this lack of progress to his medical team, he received a right ankle MRI which resulted in a disheartening finding. The healing of the injury was incomplete, as the fracture had failed to unite. After undergoing even more physical therapy and receiving steroid injections, our client still saw no improvement in the area.

Desperate to ease his pain, a right subtalar arthrodesis surgery was performed six months after the date of the accident at Stony Brook University Hospital. The operation, which entailed fusing the calcaneal bones together using a bone graft and screws, resulted in a painful and unsatisfying recovery. Our client suffered greatly both physically and psychologically during this period. Frustratingly slow recovery, grating discomfort, low quality of life, and the exhausting effort required of our client to complete even the simplest of tasks were only a fraction of the emotional turmoil that he had experienced in the aftermath of the accident.

Post-operative pain was a constant presence in his life, which only surmounted to our client graduating from using crutches to using a brace. After ten long months full of pain with little physical improvement, our client underwent a revision surgery which involved a bone graft harvest and removal of hardware. Finally, doctors performed a bone graft fusion at the subtalar joint.

This revision surgery did little to alleviate our client’s suffering. After three long years of psychological and physical havoc, he still suffers from significant pain and limited mobility. Today, he continues to use a cane to assist with walking and cannot stand for extended periods of time.

As a manual laborer who was required to be physically fit and mobile, our client was no longer able to work. His psychiatrist estimated a significant loss of income, both from his lost employment and future retirement funds. He also faced significant future medical costs due to the unimproving nature of his injury.

Settlement Amount
Our client was awarded $1,750,000 for medical costs, pain and suffering, and lost income.

Handling Attorneys
This case was handled by firm partners Stephen J. Murphy and David L. Scher.

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