John V. Fabiani, Jr. Wins Defense Verdict in Construction Accident Case

This was an action for personal injuries arising out of an accident involving the plaintiff, a union-affiliated ironworker, who reported to a construction site at the St. George’s Ferry Terminal, in Staten Island, New York. His employer and our client, Northeast Structural Steel, was hired as a subcontractor. Another laborer, who was performing work directly overhead the plaintiff’s work area, was using a hydraulic chipping “helldog” hammer to break concrete off a steel I-beam. When the plaintiff arrived at the job site, he was instructed by the general contractor to stay away from the work area until the chipping work was completed. Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff and a co-worker were allegedly told that it was safe to return to his work area near bus ramp C. When the plaintiff returned to his work area, he was struck on the head by a 200 lb. piece of concrete that fell from above. The plaintiff was propelled forward and hit a steel column before falling on the ground.  The plaintiff sued the premises’ owner, the New York City Department of Transportation. He also sued the construction project’s general contractor, Conti of New York LLC. He claimed the defendants violated the New York State Labor Law. Subsequently, the NYCDOT and Conti filed a counter claim against the plaintiff’s employer, Northeast. At trial, the plaintiff’s counsel ultimately discontinued the claims against the NYCDOT. The plaintiff’s counsel contended that the defendants violated various Industrial Code Rules.  They contended that the violations established that the defendants failed to provide or ensure reasonable and adequate protection, as required by Labor Law §241(6). The plaintiff’s counsel alleged that the defendants violated Labor Law §200, which defines general workplace-safety requirements and Labor Law §240(1), which outlines the general safety procedures required to prevent elevation-related hazards. The plaintiff claimed that the defendants failed to secure the premises from falling objects and did not provide the appropriate protective materials, such as netting or planking, above his work area to prevent falling objects from injuring workers below. Plaintiff’s counsel alleged that the defendants should have had an inspection procedure in place to determine whether there were unsecured pieces of concrete at the work site. The defendants contended that the work that was being performed did not constitute demolition work, as defined by Labor Law §200. The defense also claimed that it was not required to inspect the job site for unsecured concrete. Defense counsel argued that the incident was a “freak accident” and that the defendants were not provided notice or warning of the condition/accident. The jury determined that Conti was 100% liable for the accident and that the plaintiff’s employer and our client, Northeast, was not liable.

Gorman v. N.Y. City Dep’t of Transp. et al., Index No. 150326/13 (Richmond Co. Sup. Co., March 14, 2016)

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