We Obtained a $1,500,000 Settlement for Construction Accident; the Fall Down the Chimney Case

We obtained a settlement of $1,500,000 for a construction accident.

Our client worked for a roofer  which was working on the roof of St. Francis College in Brooklyn.  The client was walking on the roof when he fell through an unmarked and unbarricaded chimney shaft which had been abandoned.  The shaft was covered with a mere piece of plywood.  Our client, a strapping man of 250+ pounds, had no way of knowing that the thin piece of plywood covered an abandoned chimney.

   The client said that when the plywood collapsed beneath his feet, the next thing that he realized was that he was falling down a shaft.  He was terrified.  He recalls seeing the hole of light above get smaller and smaller as he fell deeper and deeper down the chimney.

The client fell 90 feet.  It was a miracle that he was not killed.  He did not hit the bottom because he got wedged in the shaft before reaching the basement.  The Fire Department had to rescue him. 

The client sustained multiple injuries including a degloving of part of the calf, skin grafts, a torn meniscus with surgery, and low back injuries.  The client has been unable to return to work.  He spent a couple of months in the hospital.

We claimed that defendant college and general contractor were liable under Labor Law 240 (1) in that they failed to provide adequate safety measures regarding the unused chimney. 

The college and the general contractor, Turner Construction, were represented by the same insurance company and same law firm.  They vigorously defended the case on all fronts.  For example, defendants claim that the shaft was adequately protected and marked-off by sandbags.  Turner’s supervisor said that he saw this on Saturday.  Yet someone removed the protection.  Turner suspected that either plaintiff or a co-worker of the client removed the protection on Monday in order to use the chimney to hoist material to the roof.

Turner Construction also claimed that a good number of the client’s injuries were pre-existing.  Furthermore, defendants hired a vocational and rehabilitation expert who opined that the client was not totally disabled and could work in a less physically taxing job, such as a security guard at a desk.

The case was settled in a private mediation before Mediator Ronnie Bernon Gallina of JAMS.  She is one of the best in the business.   I and Michael Goldfarb represented the client.

We have written extensively about construction accidents and Labor Law 240 (1) in prior posts.  See, for example,  “Getting a Maximum Recovery from Construction Accidents” and “Falling Objects, Construction Accidents, and Labor Law 240 (1)–The Narducci Rule.”

If you have been injured in a construction accident please feel free to call me at 800-581-1434 for a free consultation.

Prior case results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Mark E. Seitelman, 12/8/08,  www.seitelman.com.


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