$3 Million Settlement - Non-Union Laborer Injured After Fall From Ladder

Thomas P. O’Malley, attorney with Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, settled a case for $3,000,000, following a three-week trial for a laborer who was injured at a construction site.

The plaintiff, who was 24 years old at the time of the accident, was an undocumented, non-union laborer who was injured when he fell off a 12-foot wooden extension ladder after attempting to remove a wooden support form affixed to a 9-foot concrete support beam. The plaintiff contended a building owner representative directed him to remove the wood. The building owner denied the plaintiff’s claim, and brought third-party actions against the general contractor, the plaintiff’s employer, and the subcontractor - a concrete company that installed the wooden form.

The general contractor denied responsibility, alleging the owner of the building directed the plaintiff’s work. The subcontractor subsequently denied responsibility, alleging the accident would not have happened if the general contractor had simply requested the subcontractor remove the form.

The defendants argued at trial that the plaintiff’s fall from the ladder did not cause any injuries to his back, neck, or head, and that the plaintiff’s complaints of severe pain were either exaggerations or an underlying mental disorder. The defendants additionally contended the plaintiff’s hospital records demonstrated there was no medical evidence to support the plaintiff’s complaints of severe pain in his lower back, and the subsequent spinal surgeries were unnecessary. The defendants had expert testimony from a radiologist stating MRIs taken of the plaintiff’s cervical and lumbar spine did not show any traumatic herniations, but minor protrusions due to degeneration. The defendants also retained expert testimony from an orthopedic surgeon, who stated the plaintiff’s two spinal surgeries were unnecessary. The defendant’s expert testimony included a neurologist who alleged the abnormalities on the MRI of the brain were not due to trauma, but more likely a preexisting vascular constriction or Lyme disease.

The plaintiff’s treating physicians countered the defense’s expert testimony. The plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon testified the plaintiff’s fall from the ladder caused the plaintiff to suffer traumatic herniations to his cervical and lumbar spine that required two spinal surgeries. The plaintiff’s radiologist testified that the CT and MRIs taken of the plaintiff’s brain, cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine demonstrated the plaintiff suffered a traumatic brain injury, herniations of the cervical and lumbar spine, as well as compression fractures of his thoracic spine. The plaintiff’s pain management specialist testified that as a result of the fall, the plaintiff was required to undergo several epidural injections to his lumbar spine. The plaintiff’s psychologist opined that the plaintiff suffered a mild traumatic brain injury that resulted in a permanent loss of concentration and short-term memory requiring cognitive therapy.

WRSH attorney David Hoffman’s motion for summary judgment under Labor Law 240(1) was granted against defendant owner 52-01 LLC.

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