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$3,400,000 Settlement for Union Carpenter with Severe Knee Injuries After Work-Related Fall

Court and County

Supreme Court, Queens County

Description of Plaintiff

Plaintiff was a 53-year-old union carpenter at the time of the accident.

Description of Case

At the time of the incident, our client was working on a scaffold that was located in an elevator pit and positioned so that there was a two-foot gap between the scaffold and the wall. At the bottom of the pit, between twelve and fourteen feet below the scaffold platform, was a concrete floor. This scaffold platform was approximately five feet wide and six feet long. There was no railing of any sort on the scaffold, nor was there safety netting or a safety harness provided. In fact, our client had never seen any nets in place, nor any workers provided with safety harnesses, nor any workers provided with lifelines while working at the site.

On the day of the accident, our client was instructed to work with two other laborers to install a lentil, or square piece of metal, onto the top of another elevator pit on site. A lentil is very heavy and typically requires five or six men to move it. When the accident occurred, our client had been pushing the back of the lentil while the other laborers pulled from the front in order to position it onto the top of the other pit.

At this point, one of the workers must have pulled too hard, causing our client to fall forward and into the gap between the scaffold and the wall. Silva then fell into the gap between the vault wall and the scaffold that he had been standing on onto the concrete floor 12-14 feet below. He landed on his right leg and then fell onto his left side, causing further injury. Firemen and ambulances were called and our client was pulled out of the pit he’d fallen into with a gurney.


Our client was taken by ambulance to Bellevue Hospital with complaints of pain in his neck, right knee, right ankle and spine. He was initially diagnosed with a comminuted fracture of the patella and tibial plateau. Initially, his right knee was too swollen for them to operate, so he was released after three days and told to come back once swelling had subsided. Over the next few days, he came back a few times and was eventually admitted for an open reduction internal fixation surgery on his right knee.

After this surgery on his knee was performed, our client was diagnosed with post-traumatic arthritis and varus deformity of the right knee. He was told he would require a total knee replacement and would be totally dependent on a crutch moving forward.

After this total knee replacement, our client received an alarming list of diagnoses:

  • Chronic right knee pain
  • Antalgic gait pattern
  • Right saphenous nerve compression
  • Decreased cervical range of motion
  • Right cervical radiculopathy (C6)
  • Chronic right arm weakness
  • Post-traumatic osteoarthritis in cervical and lumbar spine
  • Low back pain with decreased range of motion
  • Right L4 radiculopathy
  • Anxiety and depression

It was determined that our client would never be able to return to construction-related work, or any work that requires prolonged standing, walking or stair climbing. His gait was altered for life, and he was given a cane which may also be necessary for the rest of his life.


The parties reached a negotiated settlement of $3,400,000.


The case was handled by Daniel. P. O’Toole and Scott Occhiogrosso.

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