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$5,500,000 Settlement for a Nassau County Construction Worker Who Was Struck by a Rotating Excavator


Supreme Court, Nassau County


Our client was a 54 year old construction worker who specialized in excavation and de-watering work. Our client’s company was hired by the general contractor of a project at Jones Beach State Park that involved digging a 25 foot deep hole to accommodate a sewage pump. At the beginning of the excavation, our client’s company drove pieces of metal sheeting into the ground to form a perimeter around the hole; with certain sheets of metal protruding as much as 4 feet above ground level. The digging was mainly performed by a large excavator, a Komatsu PC 350, which was operated by the foreman employed by the general contractor. While our client was facing toward the hole, the excavator rotated and its counterweight struck him, pinning him against a piece of steel sheeting. Our client claimed that the excavator had not been actively digging prior to the incident, and should not have begun to rotate before its operator ensured that the area of its swing radius was safely free of other workers. The excavator operator gave contrary testimony at his deposition, claiming that our client had dangerously walked into the swing radius of the excavator on several prior occasions, and had been warned on those prior occasions to move out of harm’s way. The other witnesses at the scene gave varying accounts of what had occurred, some supporting our client’s claims and some not. The Defendant contractor also claimed that our client’s company bore some responsibility for leaving the metal sheeting at heights that created potential pinch points. This all made for a very complex liability case.


Our client’s upper body was crushed, and he suffered several rib fractures, a scapula fracture and fractures to his left forearm (radius and ulna). The radius and ulna fractures were operated on via open reduction / internal fixation surgery. Scans performed in the emergency room also revealed a partially collapsed left lung. Our client ultimately developed Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (known as “CRPS” or “RSD”). This progressive neurologic disease caused our client to suffer highly increased pain and sensitivity, first to his left arm and then to his chest, left leg and right arm. Our client’s condition deteriorated to the point where he had great difficulty with any physical activity, including walking, and he developed cardiac and pulmonary issues as well. A bruise on his heart from the crush injuries led to PVCs which were addressed operatively with an ablation procedure. Our client underwent various treatments, including therapy and injections, and ultimately had a spinal cord stimulator implanted in an effort to control his pain. Our client was disabled from employment by his injuries, and required help with many activities of daily life.


The case settled approximately one year prior to trial for $5,500,000.


Partners Stephen J. Murphy and David L. Scher.

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