Laborer sustained brain, eye damage after fall from scaffold
|Labor Law, Slips, Trips & Falls - Fall from Height|
|Alejandro Alpirez v. WBB Construction, Inc., 1107 Broadway LLC, 1107 Broadway Mezz I LLC, 1107 Broadway Mezz II LLC, Tessler Developments LLC, 200 Fifth LLC & 200 Fifth Avenue Associates L.L.C., No. 106699/08|
|New York Supreme, NY|
|George J. Silver
- Marc J. Rothenberg; The Law Firm of Allen L. Rothenberg; New York, NY, for Alejandro Alpirez
- Linda Lajterman R.N., C.L.C.P.; Life Care Planning; Ramsey, NJ called by: Marc Rothenberg
- Alan Leiken Ph.D.; Economics; Stony Brook, NY called by: Marc Rothenberg
- Anthony D. Martine; McMahon, Martine & Gallagher, LLP; New York, NY, for WBB Construction Inc., 1107 Broadway LLC, 1107 Broadway Mezz I LLC, 1107 Broadway Mezz II LLC, Tessler Developments LLC, 200 Fifth Avenue Associates LLC
- James M. Murphy; Montfort, Healy, McGuire & Salley, LLP; Garden City, NY, for All Waste Interiors LLC
- Patricia Enriquez; Vocational Rehabilitation; New York, NY called by: Anthony Martine
- Alfred Nadel M.D.; Ophthalmology; New York, NY called by: Anthony Martine
- Larry Shemen M.D.; Otolaryngology; New York, NY called by: Anthony Martine
- Maria DeJesus M.D.; Neurology; Rye Brook, NY called by: Anthony Martine
On Feb. 11, 2008, plaintiff Alejandro Alpirez, 37, a laborer, worked at a demolition site that was located at 1107 Broadway, in Manhattan. During the course of the day, Alpirez and a co-worker were directed to cut a pipe that was suspended from a high ceiling. The task necessitated their use of a scaffold and a chain saw. A rope was placed around the pipe, to secure it while it was being cut. The pipe's supporting device broke while Alpirez was cutting the pipe. The pipe swung downward, and it struck Alpirez's head and the scaffold. Alpirez fell off of the scaffold, plummeted about 12 feet and landed on his head. He sustained injuries of his face and head.
Alpirez sued the project's general contractor, WBB Construction Inc.; the premises' owners, 1107 Broadway LLC, 1107 Broadway Mezz I LLC, 1107 Broadway Mezz II LLC and Tessler Developments LLC; and the premises' former owners, 200 Fifth Avenue Associates LLC and 200 Fifth LLC. Alpirez alleged that the defendants violated the New York State Labor Law.
Evidence established that 200 Fifth Avenue Associates and 200 Fifth had sold the premises prior to the accident, so those parties were dismissed.
The remaining defendants impleaded Alpirez's employer, All Waste Interiors LLC. The first-party defendants alleged that All Waste Interiors controlled and directed Alpirez's work functions.
Alpirez claimed that his fall was a result of the scaffold's platform having been struck by the falling pipe. He contended that one of the platform's two planks fell and that, as a result, the structure shook and moved. Plaintiff's counsel claimed that the scaffold should have been secured and that its platform should have been protected by a railing. He contended that a municipal investigator immediately inspected the scaffold and determined that the lack of railings constituted a hazard.
Alpirez also claimed that he was not provided a harness, a lanyard or any other equipment that could have prevented his fall or injuries. He further claimed that a suitable anchorage point was not available for the attachment of a harness or lanyard, if one had been provided. During a deposition, a representative of All Waste Interiors acknowledged that the company had not provided safety equipment for every worker at the site.
Plaintiff's counsel contended that the incident stemmed from an elevation-related hazard, as defined by Labor Law § 240(1), and that Alpirez was not provided the proper, safe equipment that is a requirement of the statute. He also contended that the site was not properly safeguarded, as required by Labor Law § 241(6).
Defense counsel contended that eight safety harnesses were available at the work site during the day of the accident, but that Alpirez did not use one. They also contended that the site's supervisors were not aware that Alpirez was not using a harness. All Waste Interiors' counsel contended that the company's employees had been directed to use harnesses.
Plaintiff's counsel moved for summary judgment of liability, and the motion was granted. The matter proceeded to damages.
Alpirez sustained fractures of orbital bones, which form the eye's sockets. He also sustained damage of his brain. He was placed in an ambulance, and he was transported to St. Vincent's Hospital, Manhattan. He underwent a craniotomy, and his fractures were addressed via open reduction and internal fixation. His hospitalization lasted more than two weeks.
Alpirez's fractures resulted in the permanent loss of his right eye's vision. His brain's injury resulted in permanent impairment of his audition and permanent impairment of cognitive functions that include his concentration, his expressiveness and his memory. Plaintiff's counsel contended that Alpirez will develop dementia. He claimed that Alpirez will require increasing residential care and assistance that will eventually necessitate institutionalization.
Alpirez sought reimbursement of a workers' compensation lien that exceeded $300,000. He also sought recovery of his past and future medical expenses, his past and future lost earnings, and damages for his past and future pain and suffering.
The parties negotiated a pretrial settlement. The defendants' insurers agreed to pay $11.5 million. The settlement also included a waiver of Alpirez's workers' compensation lien.
This report is based on court documents, information that was provided by plaintiff's counsel and information that was provided by All Waste Interiors' counsel. Counsel of 200 Fifth Avenue Associates and 200 Fifth was not asked to contribute, and the remaining defendants' counsel did not respond to the reporter's phone calls.