$3,200,000 Settlement for Window Installer with Elbow, Shoulder, & Spine Injuries After Construction Site Fall
Court and County
Supreme Court, Suffolk County
Plaintiff Age and Occupation
Plaintiff was a 50-year-old window installer at the time of the accident.
Description of Case
This matter stems from an accident that occurred on a fall afternoon at an elementary school in Suffolk County, New York. The elementary school was a part of the Middle Country School District. Plaintiff, a window installer, was working for a company hired by the school district to install new windows to this school building. Plaintiff, while standing on a one-level scaffold installing a window, was injured when he stepped onto a scaffolding plank and it flipped up, causing him to fall to the ground below. Plaintiff claimed the scaffolding plank was not properly secured when the scaffolding was erected, causing it to flip up when weight was applied to the opposite side of the plank. Plaintiff was granted summary judgment regarding New York State Labor Law sections 240(1) and 241(6).
Defendants argued that there was no violation of New York Labor Law 240(1) because Plaintiff did not fall off the scaffolding, but rather fell onto the same level scaffolding platform he was working on and therefore there was no height-related risk. Defendants filed a Notice of Appeal regarding the summary judgement decision.
Injuries and Damages
As a result of the accident Plaintiff injured his left shoulder, left elbow, and cervical spine.
Regarding the left shoulder, Plaintiff felt immediate pain and eventually started a course of physical therapy and pain management. When conservative treatment did not provide relief, Plaintiff was referred for an MRI exam of the left shoulder, which revealed a full-thickness rotator cuff tear at the supraspinatus tendon insertion, as well as tearing of the superior/anterior labrum and posterior/inferior labrum. Plaintiff underwent surgery consisting of a left shoulder arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, subacromial decompression, and debridement. Due to continued pain and restrictions even after the surgery, Plaintiff underwent a left shoulder manipulation under anesthesia with injection. To date Plaintiff continues to have left shoulder pain and restrictions.
Regarding the left elbow, Plaintiff also started a course of physical therapy and pain management, to no avail. An MRI revealed a slight interstitial partial tearing involving the central third of the triceps tendon insertion. Plaintiff underwent surgery consisting of a left triceps tendon repair and debridement.
Due to progression of neck pain and restrictions, Plaintiff was referred for a cervical MRI that revealed a C4-C5 left paracentral disc herniation impinging the cord on the left. EMG of the upper extremities was performed which revealed left-sided acute radiculopathy at C5, C6, and C7. Plaintiff underwent a series of cervical epidural steroid injections which failed to provide relief. After conservative treatment failed, Plaintiff underwent an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion at the C4-C5 segment. Plaintiff continues to have significant neck pain and restrictions.
The defendants conceded that the left shoulder injury was related to the accident and the treatment rendered was necessary. However, Defendants argued that the left elbow injury was not causally related; rather, it resulted from chronic wear and tear and overuse. Additionally, they argued that the films failed to illustrate any acute injury. Further, they argued that the elbow/triceps tendon surgery was not causally related to the accident.
The defendants also argued that the cervical spine injury was not causally related. Defendants claimed that all diagnostic studies illustrated a longstanding degenerative condition of the cervical spine that was preexisting, and that there were no acute traumatic conditions found on the radiology studies resulting from the accident. Further, Defendants argued that the cervical spine surgery was not necessitated by the accident.
Defendants argued that Plaintiff’s injuries were all resolved and that he would not require any further treatment. Additionally, they stated that he could participate in all activities of daily living without restrictions. Finally, Defendants argued that although Plaintiff may not be able to return to his occupation as a window installer, he is otherwise employable on a full-time basis in many other occupations for which he qualifies.
This case settled for $3,200,000.
This case was handled by firm Partners Stephen J. Murphy and Michael J. Hurwitz.