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$4,500,000 Settlement for Client that Tripped and Fell on a Jobsite and Sustained a Knee Injury

Our 35-year-old client was pulling a heavy gang box while on a jobsite and stepped into a depression in the concrete floor. He fell and injured his knee, which resulted in surgical intervention. As a result of the accident, our client was unable to return to work as a plumber. Represented by partner Daniel O’Toole with associates Pawel Wierzbicki and Joshua Stern, he received a $4,500,000 settlement.

Court and County
Supreme, New York

Description of Case
The case arose out of an accident which occurred at a construction site wherein then 31-year-old Plaintiff was working for a plumbing subcontractor. Plaintiff was walking backwards and pulling a heavy gang box with his coworker when he stepped into a depression in the concrete floor. Plaintiff alleged Labor Law §200 and §241(6) violations.  Essentially, both violations stemmed from our allegation that the owner and general contractor failed to maintain a safe jobsite, which caused Plaintiff to sustain injuries and economic damages.

Our investigation included examination of several of the Defendants’ employees.  This inquiry revealed that the subject defective area had previously been spraypainted to warn passersby of the tripping hazard; however, it had been painted long enough before the accident that it wore off. The general contractor’s site safety manager testified that employees would either spray paint the depressions on this jobsite or cover them with plywood. It was uncontroverted that neither safety measure was in place at the time of the accident at or in proximity to the hazard at issue. One of the Defendants’ witnesses conceded the area did contain a “tripping hazard” although his lawyers argued the area was safe and Plaintiff bore responsibility for the fall. We filed a motion for summary judgment that was vigorously opposed by the defense. After oral argument, the Court granted summary judgment to the Plaintiff on both the Labor Law §200 and §241(6) claims, which meant if the case went to trial, a jury would only decide the amount of compensation Plaintiff was entitled.

Plaintiff’s only orthopedic injury was to his right knee, which resulted in two surgeries.  During the first procedure, performed arthroscopically, his surgeon found a bucket handle medial meniscus tear, lateral meniscus tear, and partial anterior crucial ligament tear.  The bucket handle tear was found to be inoperable.  Thereafter, Plaintiff underwent three months of conservative treatment and was permitted to attempt work on limited duty with a ten-pound weight restriction.  Despite subsequent injections and wearing an unloader brace, the knee pain persisted in the following months and Plaintiff underwent a meniscal transplant surgery.  Unfortunately, the treatment failed to return the Plaintiff back to pre-accident levels of function and he developed arthrofibrosis, a condition caused by scar tissue, causing pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion requiring a steroid injection.

Based on our experts’ evaluations of Plaintiff, economic damages were claimed.  We alleged that the Plaintiff would be required to undergo lifelong medical treatment related to the injuries sustained in the accident, including a future knee replacement.  We also alleged that Plaintiff cannot return to his usual vocation as a union plumber due to the injuries suffered in the accident at issue. As a result, we set forth a lost earnings claim, which included income loss, loss of employer contribution to his 401K and pension, and social security income.

Defendants hired their own expert to evaluate Plaintiff. Their doctor conceded the knee injury was caused by the accident at issue; however, he disputed Plaintiff’s complaints of pain and limitations. He further opined that Plaintiff made such a good recovery, he could go back to work as a plumber.

Settlement Amount
The parties resolved this case following a private mediation for $4,500,000.

Handling Attorneys
The case was handled by partner Daniel O’Toole with associates Pawel Wierzbicki and Joshua Stern.

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