$3,700,000 Settlement for Worker Who Fell from Unsecured Scaffold Planks
DATE OF SETTLEMENT
November 20, 2016
COURT AND COUNTY
AGE AND OCCUPATION OF PLAINTIFF
Plaintiff was 33 years old on the date of the accident. Plaintiff was an asbestos worker when the accident occurred.
FACTS AND ALLEGATIONS
The subject accident occurred on August 31, 1999, between the third and fourth floor of P.S. 156, located at 104 Sutter Avenue, Brooklyn, New York. Plaintiff fell from platform planks approximately 15 to 20 feet above the ground.
Plaintiff was working for a subcontractor hired to do asbestos removal work for a demolition construction project at the school. Plaintiff had to remove asbestos from a ceiling and surrounding walls by using a chipping gun. In order to complete this job, Plaintiff was using a platform or scaffold that had already been at the construction site on the date of the accident. Plaintiff was standing on the elevated scaffold, removing asbestos, when the platform shifted and failed to hold his weight, causing him to fall 15 to 20 feet to the ground and lose consciousness.
Plaintiff claimed that in order to complete his work, he was required to walk along the loose and unsecured platform boards. He also claimed that not only was he not provided with any safety devices, but there was also no fall protection around or under the scaffold. Defendants attempted to claim that it was debris that knocked the Plaintiff off the scaffold rather than the unsecured platform itself. The general contractor and subcontractors were also at odds about which of them would be responsible for providing safety equipment to any workers on site.
Plaintiff sustained extensive injuries to his head, neck, and lower back and was taken to the hospital. He suffered several lumbar disc herniations that worsened a significant pre-existing disc generation condition. He then underwent a series of spinal surgeries, including a decompressive laminotomy and facetectomy at various levels of his lumbar spine. Subsequently, Plaintiff underwent a fusion with hardware at these same levels.
Plaintiff argued that the accident caused his injuries resulting in life-changing surgeries. Plaintiff further argued that the employers had a responsibility to protect workers from dangerous conditions and ensure that all equipment, such as the scaffolds and platforms, were safe and secure. Defendants, on the other hand, argued that MRIs revealed degenerative changes in the Plaintiff’s spine. Additionally, they argued that Plaintiff’s injuries were results of pre-existing conditions, specifically due to the nature of his prior work as a hard laborer in Ecuador as well as the natural aging process. Lastly, Defendants argued that the surgeries Plaintiff underwent were not causally related to the subject accident because the Plaintiff was involved in five subsequent car accidents between June 2000 and August 2006.
Plaintiff made claims for past and future medical expenses, past and future pain and suffering, and lost wages.
The parties reached a $3,700,000 settlement during trial.
This case was handled by Jeffrey A. Block.