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$53,500,000 Jury Verdict for Construction Worker Who Suffered Paraplegia as a Result of a Construction Site Fall

Our client, a 43-year-old construction worker, was devastatingly injured while hoisting an AC unit to the roof of a multi-story duplex. He fell between 10 and 12 feet and landed on his back. Sadly, he was paralyzed from the waist-down and confined to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. Partners Joseph Donahue and Jeffrey Block fought in front of a Brooklyn jury, speaking up for our client’s life-changing pain and suffering. The jury returned with a verdict of $53.5 million for our client.

Court and County
Supreme Court, Kings County:

Plaintiff Description
At the time of the accident, our client was a 43-year-old construction worker.

Description of Case
The accident occurred at a project involving the construction of a multi-story two family home. Our client was working for a subcontractor that was hired to install AC units on the roof of the building. Our client, along with his co-workers, were instructed to lift a large AC unit onto the top of a bulkhead which was located on the top of the roof. The bulkhead was approximately 10-12 feet high.

Our client, along with three other coworkers, were located on top of the bulkhead and were attempting to lift the AC unit up to the top of the bulkhead while several other co-workers were on the roof, pushing the AC unit up to them. During the hoisting process, our client fell off the top of the bulkhead, landing on the roof below. He landed on his back. He immediately lost all movement and feeling in his legs.

Prior to the date of the accident, a crane was present at the job site to hoist the large AC unit to the bulkhead from the street. However, due to the presence of parked cars, the crane was unable to get into the proper position to hoist the AC unit. As a result, our client’s employer decided to have workers move the unit up the stairs by hand and then manually lift it onto the bulkhead. Despite the size of the condenser and the danger of working from an elevated height, there were no safety devices provided to our client to protect him while he worked at an elevated height. As a result, he fell from the bulkhead.

Following the conclusion of discovery, our lawyers made a motion to the court seeking to hold the general contractor liable for the accident as a result of a violation of the New York State Labor Law. Our arguments persuaded the court to find that the general contractor was responsible for the happening of the accident.

The case was scheduled for a damages only trial.

Injuries and Damages
As a result of the fall, our client suffered severe fractures of the thoracic spine resulting in permanent damage to the spinal cord. He underwent emergency lifesaving surgery to stabilize the spine, however the damage to the spinal cord was complete and he was rendered a paraplegic. Our client has no feeling or movement below the waist and is confined to a wheelchair. He has undergone extensive medical care, including an initial three-month hospitalization where he had to learn to perform basic tasks. This extensive hospitalization was followed by continued care by various specialists, including urologists, physiatrists, infectious disease, and gastroenterology. He also required outpatient physical and occupational therapy and medications. Despite prolonged medical treatment, he will require lifetime assistance in performing activities of daily living. His condition is permanent, and he will remain a paraplegic for the remainder of his lifetime.

Verdict Amount
Following trial, a Brooklyn jury returned a verdict in the amount of $53,500,000. The verdict was unanimous. The verdict included an award of $15 million for past pain and suffering, $30 million for future pain and suffering, $1,000,000 for past medical expenses and $7,500,000 for future medical expenses.

The matter was handled by partners S. Joseph Donahue and Jeffrey A. Block.

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