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$5,000,000 Settlement for IATSE Local One Rigger With Arm and Leg Injuries After Falling From Scaffold

Our client, a IATSE Local 1 rigger, suffered injuries to his right arm, left leg and pelvis when he fell 35 feet during the erection of a stage at a music festival in New York City. His injuries resulted in surgeries to his right elbow, right wrist, and left leg. Represented by attorneys Jeffrey Block and S. Joseph Donahue, we alleged violations to Labor Law 240(1) and Labor Law 200 and were able to secure a $5,000,000 award for him before trial.

Court and County
Supreme Court, New York County

Plaintiff Description
At the time of the accident, our client was a 37-year-old union rigger. 

Description of Case
Our client and his co-workers were working at a New York City music festival erecting the main stage for the concert. The main stage was made of several large sections of scaffolding. The 35-foot-long base of the scaffold was assembled, and a crane was then used to place additional sections of previously assembled scaffolding on top of the base scaffolding. As a union rigger, our client was responsible for climbing the base of the scaffold and connecting the sections of scaffold being hoisted by the crane to the base scaffold that was already in place.

To connect the various sections of scaffolding, our client climbed the based scaffold using a harness and lanyard. These safety devices would allow our client to tie off onto the scaffold and to protect him from falling while he performed his work.

While he was in the process of climbing the scaffolding to connect two sections of scaffolding together, the piece of scaffolding that he connected his lanyard to broke free causing Plaintiff to fall more than 30 feet to the ground below.

After the accident, it was determined that the company that was responsible for designing and assembling the scaffold had used zip ties to connect the diagonal pipes of the scaffold instead of properly securing it with steel members. As a result, when our client connected his lanyard to the diagonal pipe, the zip tie broke under his weight, causing him to fall.

Our attorneys were able to establish testimony from witnesses employed by the Defendants that the use of zip ties to assemble the diagonal pipes was improper and unsafe and that the riggers, including our client, were not aware that the diagonal pipes were inadequately secured with zip ties. 

As a result of the fall, our client was taken to a New York City Hospital where he was diagnosed with open fractures to his right elbow and left leg and fractures to his pelvis. He underwent surgery to his right elbow to remove bone fragments and surgery to his left leg, where a steel rod was placed from his knee to his ankle. His pelvic fractures did not require surgery. He remained at the hospital for nearly two weeks and then was transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation center for an additional two weeks. While at the rehabilitation center, he underwent physical and occupational therapy.

Following discharge from inpatient rehabilitation, our client underwent another surgery to his right elbow. During the procedure, the radial head of his elbow was replaced with a metal prosthetic radial head. He then began outpatient physical therapy three times per week to improve his range of motion and strength. 

After his fractures healed, our client continued to experience pain to his right elbow, right wrist, and left leg. An MRI revealed that he also sustained several tears to ligaments in his right wrist and he subsequently underwent an arthroscopic repair of the right wrist. The screws that were placed in his left knee and left ankle to secure the IM rod in his leg also began to cause our client pain and he underwent an additional surgery to have the screws removed.

Despite undergoing multiple surgeries and extensive physical therapy, our client continues to experience pain in his right elbow, right wrist, and left leg, as well as diminished strength and limited range of motion. These continuing limitations have resulted in him being unable to return to work as a union rigger.

Settlement Amount
The matter was settled at a mediation for $5,000,000.

Handling Attorneys
Partners Jeffrey A. Block and S. Joseph Donahue handled this matter.

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