The plaintiff was working at a construction site for a major building renovation in Manhattan, New York. Specifically, the first incident occurred when the plaintiff and his co-worker were pushing/pulling an A-frame cart up a temporaryfmetal ramp near a construction entrance. As the plaintiff pushed the cart, the right rear wheel turned, causing the cart to stop and the plaintiff’s body to twist. The second incident occurred immediately after that as the plaintiff, and his co-worker continued to push the cart onto a handicapped ramp once inside the premises when the right rear wheel turned again and caused the cart to crush his right hand in between the handle of the cart and the handrail on the handicap ramp.
The firm represented the owner of the building and the general contractor. As a result of the first incident, the plaintiff alleged a herniation at the L5-S1 level of his lumbar spine, which required fusion surgery. As a result of the second incident, the plaintiff alleged a crush injury to the right hand, which required surgery. The plaintiff testified that he could not return to work due to these accidents, and his experts testified he would need future medical care in excess of $2 million.
The plaintiff alleged that the defendants were negligent in providing a cart free from defects and proper ramps for persons and materials at the job site. The plaintiff also alleged violations of Labor Law Sections 200, 240 (1), and 241(6). The plaintiff asked the jury for over $7 million in damages and lost earnings.
The jury rendered a complete defense verdict on the second accident, and a verdict in favor of the firm’s clients relating to the first accident on the plaintiff’s Labor Law Section 240 (1) and 241 (6) claims, finding that there was no defect with the cart. However, the jury found on the plaintiff’s behalf relating to the Labor Law Section 200 claim on the first accident, that the client did not provide a safe workplace. They found that the client was 70% at fault, and the plaintiff was 30% comparatively at fault. Accordingly, they awarded the plaintiff a total of $980,000 representing past and future pain and suffering and past and future lost wages.
This was a significant win since they did not award any amounts for past or future medical expenses and awarded much less than the plaintiff asked. Notwithstanding the win on all the other counts, a post-trial motion was filed on the jury’s finding that the firm’s clients violated Labor Law Section 200. The plaintiff’s counsel also moved to increase the jury’s award. However, the trial court issued a decision dismissing the Labor Law Section 200 claim and set aside the jury’s verdict on that cause of action, finding that there was no evidence at trial to support the verdict – resulting in a complete defense verdict for the clients.