Premises Liability - Workplace Accident

Our client, a 32 year old kitchen cleaner, was injured when he slipped off a dirty stove top and his leg landed in a deep fryer. As a result of the accident, he was hospitalized for two weeks, and had to undergo a skin graft surgery. He subsequently missed six months from work to recuperate from his injuries.

Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP handled the investigation and litigation of the case. During the investigation phase, the firm was able to uncover that the restaurant where our client was injured, despite receiving an A grade for food safety, had infestations and was previously cited for the kitchen design being difficult to clean. During the litigation phase of the case, the firm took ten depositions of various employees of the restaurant and discovered that the worker who was supposed to prepare the kitchen for the cleaning crew came in three hours late, and the kitchen was not properly prepared on the day of the accident.

The defendants contended that there was no negligence because the plaintiff was paid to clean the kitchen and that the plaintiff knew the deep fryer was on but chose to walk along the ledge anyway to clean the ducts above the stove. The defendants further contended that there were limited damages because the plaintiff went back to work only six months after the accident. Finally, that the plaintiff’s own doctor cleared him to go back to work four months after the accident. The defendants, in fact, moved for summary judgment to dismiss the claim on the basis that the defendants were not negligent.

After extensively briefing the issues, the defendants motion for summary judgment was denied by the court. Thereafter, the defendants offered to mediate the case. Despite two days of mediation, the matter did not resolve. After over four years of litigation, on the day before the case was supposed to begin trial, the defendants offered $625,000 rather than risk a jury verdict. The case settled and our client continues to work as a kitchen cleaner.

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