$210,000 Settlement for Construction Accident at Rego Center Shopping Mall

May 30, 2012

We recently obtained a settlement of $210,000 for our client’s construction accident while working in constructing the Rego Center Shopping Mall in Rego Park (Queens), New York.

The client fell while on the job.  He was carrying various wooden forms, and he claimed to have tripped due his foot getting entangled in a cable left by another contractor.  The client sustained various knee injuries requiring surgery.

Liability turned on Labor Law 241 (6) and whether the client did indeed trip due to a cable or other factors.  This issue and damages were highly contested.

Please note that prior case results do not guarantee a similar result in your case. 


Getting a Recovery from Crane and Construction Accidents; The View of a Crane Operator

May 23, 2012

The New York Times‘s article, “In a Crane at 1,100 Feet, There Is No Room for Error” provides the viewpoint of a crane operator atop 1 World Trade Center.  It relates what a crane operator does and the dangers of the job.

The point of the story is that crane operators must be extraordinarily careful, well-trained, and calm.  The smallest mistake can result in death to not only the crane operator, but other workers.

It is noteworthy that most crane deaths in New York City have occurred due to an equipment failure rather than the operator’s negligence.

Where there is a crane collapse construction workers in New York have a unique source of recovery.  Labor Law 240 (1) makes the building owner/developer and the general contractor liable in the event of a crane failure.  The owner and contractor are strictly liable where the crane was unsafe.

The Labor Law has proven to be a valuable source of recovery for injured construction workers, especially the surviving family in the event of an operator’s death.  Unfortunately, corporate interests, including the insurance industry, seek to rescind it so that injured crane workers are left “blowing in the wind.”  The New York State Trial Lawyers Association, unions, and other consumer and public interest groups are fighting any weakening of Labor Law 240 (1).

Getting a Recovery for Construction Accidents; Is It Construction or Cleaning?

February 22, 2012

New York’s Labor Law section 240(1) is often invoked in construction accidents because it imposes strict liability upon the building owner and the general contractor.

However, there is a difference between “construction” activities versus “cleaning.”  “Construction” will be protected while “cleaning” will not.  This was highlighted in a recent case, Dahar v. Holland Ladder & Mfg. Co. (Court of Appeals, February 21, 2012, # 23).

In Dahar plaintiff was injured while working at West Metal Works which was making a “wall module”.  This wall module was least seven feet high and was being made for Bechtel National for installation in a nuclear waste treatment plant.

          After the module was made, it had to be cleaned before being shipped to the nuclear waste plant.  Dahar was cleaning the module.  While standing on a ladder provided by his employer, West Metal, the ladder broke causing him to fall.

Dahar sued Bechtel and the landlords of his employer’s facility under authority of Labor Law section 240(1).  This statute imposes liability upon the building owner and contractor for a fall from a faulty ladder during construction.

The court ruled that the worker did not get the protections of the Labor Law.  In essence, he was “cleaning” rather than engaging in construction.

Although the Labor Law will afford protection to a worker who cleans the site during the course of construction, Dahar was cleaning a completed, manufactured product rather than a construction site.  The court apologized the situation to the situation of a bookstore employee climbing a ladder to dust-off a book.

However, each construction accident presents it own unique set of facts which should be reviewed with an attorney as soon as possible.  For example, cleaning windows of a commercial building will be covered while routine cleaning of a home will not. 

If you have been involved in a construction accident, please feel free to call me for a free consultation at 800-251-1434 or write to letters@seitelman.com.

Mark E. Seitelman, 2/22/12, www.seitelman.com.

Getting a Recovery for a Construction Accident; Client’s Case Settles for $200,000

September 30, 2010

We settled a client’s construction accident case for $200,000.

The client was working for the general contractor building new private homes in Far Rockaway (Queens), New York.  His supervisor told him to dig a trench near an excavator machine, such as the one pictured above.  The excavation machine operator did not see the client, and the machine’s arm struck the client in the back.

As a result, the client sustained an entrapment of the ulnar nerve in his elbow which required surgery to release the nerve.  

We claimed that the landowner was liable under Labor Law section 241 (6) in failing to provide a safe place to work and in violating the Industrial Code.  The Industrial Code prohibits an excavation machine from operating near other workers unless they are members of the pit crew.  In our case there was a question as to whether the client would be deemed a member of the pit crew.  If it were ruled that he were a member of the crew, then the case would be dismissed.  

We settled this case with the landowner and the owner/operator of the excavation machine.  It  was settled at a private mediation before Mediator Michael McAllister of JAMS.

If you or a family member has been injured in a construction accident, please feel free to call me for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or write to letters@seitelman.com.

Prior case results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Mark E. Seitelman, 9/30/10, www.seitelman.com.

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

December 8, 2008

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.

Death of Another Construction Worker

September 13, 2008

Another construction worker fell to his death on September 11th in Morningside Heights.  See Daily News Story here.

The body of Miguel Rodriguez was covered with a sheet after he died in a scaffolding collapse at a Morningside Heights construction site on Thursday. The site's boss is facing criminal charges.

This has been a record year for construction deaths.  There has been twenty one.

It appears that a foreman was not present in violation of the rules.  The alleged “foreman”, a man of only two days experience, and the company owner were arraigned in Criminal Court.

The deceased worker leaves behind a wife and two children.   At least they will be provided for in the future under Labor Law 240 which holds the property owner liable for this accident.

Anyway, we must ask how many more deaths will occur before the City Department of Buildings gets its act together?

Mark E. Seitelman, 9/13/08, www.seitelman.com.

Another Crane Death

September 7, 2008

On September 4, 2008, another construction worker died from a fall from a crane.  The New York Times, September 5, 2008, B1.

    The accident occurred at the building shown at left.  The tower crane was being dismantled.  The worker, a part of a team of seven men, was working on a platform attached to the crane about 40 floors from the ground.  The platform apparently tilted, and the rigger, Anthony Esposito, lost his footing and fell to the ground.  The Building Department is investigating to see if the platform was properly anchored.  It appears that the platform was secured at two points rather than four.

It appears that master rigger who should have supervised the job did not do so.  Also there were unsafe conditions at the site.  See The New York Times, September 6, 2008, B3.

This has been the third fatal crane accident in the last six months.

This unfortunate pattern of fatal crane accidents indicate that the City must do more to make sure that construction sites are safe.  It appears that the City has not kept-up with inspections and supervision in view of the City building boom.  In essence, the City has turned a blind eye since construction means jobs and increased revenues to the City. 

Furthermore, this pattern of accidents point to the need to uphold Labor Law 240 (1) which makes building owners and general contractors liable for safety conditions.  Now, more than ever, New York’s construction workers need the protections of the Labor Law.

If you have involved in a construction or crane accident, please feel free to call us at 800-581-1434.

Mark E. Seitelman, September 7, 2008, www.seitelman.com.

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