Construction Laborer Recovers $1,150,000 after Saw-Blade Accident
SUMMARY OF CASE:
Our client, a construction laborer, suffered injuries to his face when using a saw that had been modified by the employer contrary to instructions from the saw manufacturer. Our attorneys filed suit against the City of New York, the New York City School Construction Authority and the general contractor on the project to obtain compensation for the client’s injuries, which included nerve damage, possible TMJ disorder and decreased movement of his lower jaw. He also claimed PTSD that prevented him from returning to work. Despite the defense’s claim that the client showed no signs of PTSD, our client was awarded $1,150,000 in compensation.
DETAILS OF CASE:
At the time of the accident, our client, a 47 year-old union laborer, was working for Darcon Construction Inc. at a new construction site for P.S. 237, located at 36 Avenue P in Brooklyn. He was injured while using a portable, gas-powered saw manufactured by Stihl. The saw was designed to cut masonry, concrete and metal, and was intended to be used with abrasive wheels. The saw did not come equipped with any guard on the bottom portion of the cutting wheel. Despite the manufacturer’s specific warnings attached to the saw and in the user’s manual about not using the saw to cut wood, plaintiff’s employer modified the saw by attaching a wood cutting blade and instructed him to cut wooden lagging planks used as trench support.
Our client was cutting the lagging when it “kicked back” and the unguarded portion of the saw struck his face. The risk of “kick back” if the saw were used to cut wood was noted by the manufacturer in their manual. The man charged violations of N.Y. Labor Law § 241(6) against the City of New York, The New York City School Construction Authority and AMCC Corp., the general contractor. In support of his Labor Law § 241(6) claim, Plaintiff relied upon a violation of Industrial Code section 23-1.12(c). Our client argued that after it was fitted with a wood cutting blade and used to cut wood, the saw became a defective wood cutting circular saw in that it lacked the proper retractable guard and base.
Although Defendants claimed that the subject saw could not be fitted with a guard, and that the Industrial Code was not applicable, they did not offer any expert testimony to contradict our client’s claims. He sustained a complex laceration to the left side of his face requiring debridement and repair. As a result of the facial laceration, he had a decreased mandibular range of motion, loss of sensitivity to the left side of his face, and possible TMJ disorder.
He also suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which prevented him from returning to work after the accident. The defendants argued that our client had made a very good recovery with very little scarring. They also claimed that he did not have any symptoms of PTSD.