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$2,250,000 Settlement for Building Engineer Who Suffered Back and Knee Injuries in Construction Fall

In a construction accident case, our client was performing repair work on a leaking air conditioning unit at an office building in Westchester County, New York. The unit was mounted on the ceiling, at a height of 22 feet. To complete the repairs, our client was provided with a ladder that was not tall enough to reach the required area, forcing him to climb onto an unstable shelving unit to reach the air conditioner. While attempting to make the repairs, he fell 15 feet to the concrete floor below. Partners Stephen Murphy and Michael Hurwitz obtained a $2,250,000 settlement for him.

Court and County
Supreme Court, Bronx County

Age and Occupation of Plaintiff
At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was a 38-year-old building engineer.

Description of Case
Plaintiff was assigned to perform repair work on a leaking air conditioning unit in an office building in Westchester County, New York. The unit was mounted on the ceiling in the building’s basement, at a height of 22 feet. Plaintiff was provided with a rolling ladder to complete the repair work, but it was not tall enough to reach the necessary area. In addition, the area directly underneath the unit was totally obstructed by shelving that almost reached the ceiling, restricting access to the unit. Plaintiff was therefore forced to place the rolling ladder next to the shelving, ascend the ladder, climb on top of the unguarded shelving, then stand on top of boxes that were on top of the shelving in order to reach the ceiling air unit. While Plaintiff was reaching overhead with a tool in order to pry and pull part of the inside of the unit off, he lost his balance. The boxes fell out from under his feet, causing him to fall off the unguarded side of the shelving 15 feet to the cement floor below.

Plaintiff claimed Defendants were negligent and violated New York’s Labor Law §240(1), a law which protects workers from liability in fall accidents. Defendants argued that Plaintiff was not engaged in an activity covered by Labor Law§240(1) as he was not performing repairs within the meaning of the statute.

The parties all moved for summary judgment and the motions were pending when the matter resolved.

Injuries and Damages
EMS transported Plaintiff from the scene of the accident to the emergency room at Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital with immediate complaints of pain to his lower back and right knee.

Plaintiff alleged to have sustained a tear of the posterior horn of the medial meniscus of the right knee, requiring an arthroscopic surgery. Plaintiff further alleged traumatic lumbar herniations at the L4-5 and L5-S1 segments. Plaintiff required surgical intervention for his injuries, consisting of a decompressive lumbar laminectomy and discectomy. Prior to the surgeries, Plaintiff attempted extensive conservative treatment to both areas of injury, which failed.

The Defendants argued that Plaintiff’s lumbar spine injuries were degenerative and preexisting in nature, and were not related to the subject accident. They also argued that all diagnostic studies obtained failed to illustrate any traumatically induced injury. Defendants argued that the right knee injury was a very minor soft tissue injury which completely resolved, and any ongoing complaints are age-related. Additionally, Defendants argued that no further treatment was necessary and that Plaintiff could return to employment without restriction and engage in his daily activities without restrictions.

This matter settled for $2,250,000.

Handling Attorneys
This case was handled by Firm Partner Stephen J. Murphy and Senior Counsel Michael J. Hurwitz.

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