Wet floor, poor ladder caused fall, plumber claimed
|Labor Law, Construction - Accidents, Slips, Trips & Falls - Fall from Height, Construction - Scaffolds and Ladders|
|John Walsh v. Atlantic Sunrise, LLC & Frank Corigliano Contractor, Inc., No. 36001/03|
|Kings Supreme, NY|
|Jack M. Battaglia
- Camille A. Fortunato; Fortunato & Fortunato, PLLC; Brooklyn, NY, for John Walsh
- Ronald W. Gill; Fortunato & Fortunato, PLLC; Brooklyn, NY, for John Walsh
- Mannuccio Mannucci M.D.; Psychiatry; New York, NY called by: Camille Fortunato, Ronald Gill
- Michael Rettig M.D.; Hand Surgery; New York, NY called by: Camille Fortunato, Ronald Gill
- Todd Schlifstein D.O.; Physical Medicine; New York, NY called by: Camille Fortunato, Ronald Gill
- Jeffrey Spivak M.D.; Orthopedics; New York, NY called by: Camille Fortunato, Ronald Gill
- Jonathan Steiber M.D.; Orthopedic Surgery; New York, NY called by: Camille Fortunato, Ronald Gill
- Alan Leiken Ph.D.; Economics; Stony Brook, NY called by: Ronald Gill, Camille Fortunato
- Mark A. Healy; Morris, Duffy, Alonso & Faley; New York, NY, for 355 Butler Associates LLC
- Scott F. Morgan; Weiner, Millo & Morgan, L.L.C.; New York, NY, for Frank Corigliano Contractor Inc.
- Jonathan E. Roberts; Talkin, Muccigrosso & Roberts; New York, NY, for Atlantic Sunrise, LLC
- Raymond F. Slattery; Cartafalsa, Slattery, Turpin & Lenoff; New York, NY, for Frank Corigliano Contractor Inc.
- Sharon Levine; Vocational Rehabilitation; Columbia, PA called by: Mark Healy
- Roger Bonomo M.D.; Neurology; New York, NY called by: Raymond Slattery
- Maurice Carter M.D.; Orthopedic Surgery; New York, NY called by: Raymond Slattery
- Michael Winn M.D.; Radiology; New York, NY called by: Mark Healy
- Zurich North America for Frank Corigliano Contractor (excess)
- The Ohio Casualty Insurance Co. for 355 Butler Associates (excess)
- Chartis Inc. for Frank Corigliano Contractor (primary insurer)
- First Mercury Insurance Co. for 355 Butler Associates (primary insurer)
On July 2, 2001, plaintiff John Walsh, 43, a plumber's foreman, worked at a construction site that was located at 5905 Strickland Ave., in the Mill Island section of Brooklyn. Walsh claimed that he fell off of a ladder, and he contended that he sustained injuries of his back and his neck.
Walsh sued the construction project's general contractor, Frank Corigliano Contractor Inc., and the premises' owner, Atlantic Sunrise, LLC. Walsh alleged that the defendants violated the New York State Labor Law.
The defendants impleaded Walsh's employer, 355 Butler Associates LLC. The first-party defendants alleged that 355 Butler Associates controlled and directed Walsh's work functions. They sought contractual indemnity.
Walsh claimed that a 6-foot-tall wooden A-frame ladder collapsed while he was standing on one of its upper rungs. He contended that the ladder was positioned on a wet floor, and he claimed that the lack of footing caused a rupture of one of the ladder's side rails. Two co-workers claimed to have seen the incident, and they agreed that the ladder had been placed on a wet surface. Walsh suggested that the wet floor could have been a result of a leaking spigot. He also claimed that the ladder was defective.
Walsh's counsel contended that the incident stemmed from an elevation-related hazard, as defined by Labor Law § 240(1), and that Walsh was not provided the proper, safe equipment that is a requirement of the statute. They also contended that the site was not properly safeguarded, as required by Labor Law § 241(6), and that the defendants violated the general safety requirements of Labor Law § 200.
Atlantic Sunrise's counsel contended that Walsh reported to Frank Corigliano Contractor and that, as such, Atlantic Sunrise was not liable for the accident.
The remaining defendants' counsel contended that Walsh fabricated the accident. A supervisor employed by Frank Corigliano Contractor contended that he and 40 of his co-workers had no knowledge of any accident having occurred on July 2, 2001. He also contended that a spigot was not located within the vicinity of the area in which the accident was alleged to have occurred.
Defense counsel also presented 355 Butler Associates' president, John Scarpinito, who contended that Walsh had been reporting back and neck pain prior to the date on which the accident was alleged to have occurred. Scarpinito also contended that Walsh did not report the accident until September 2002. Scarpinito claimed that Walsh could not provide the specific date of the accident, that he indicated that the accident was not witnessed and that he asked, "Can I say I fell off a ladder?" Walsh denied having engaged in such a conversation, and he claimed that the delayed filing of an accident report was a product of a misunderstanding.
On July 5, 2001, Walsh presented to a doctor. He underwent minor treatment.
Walsh ultimately claimed that he sustained herniations of his C4-5, C5-6, C6-7, L2-3 and L5-S1 intervertebral discs. He also claimed that his wrists developed carpal tunnel syndrome.
Walsh's injuries necessitated 10 surgeries. In March 2006, he underwent surgery that involved fusion of a portion of his spine's lumbar region. In October 2006, he underwent decompressive surgery that included discectomies, which involved the excision of his C4-5, C5-6 and C6-7 discs, and fusion of the corresponding levels of his spine. In January 2008, he underwent decompressive laminotomies, which involved the excision of portions of his L3, L4, L5 and S1 vertebrae. He also underwent surgical release of each arm's transverse carpal ligament, four surgeries that involved the implantation and/or removal of electrodes and another device that stimulated his spine, surgical ablation of problematic spinal nerves, and the administration of painkilling facet-block and nerve-block injections.
Walsh has not worked since Oct. 4, 2002, and he contended that he suffers permanent residual pain and limitations that prevent his resumption of work. He also contended that his injuries and resultant disability caused depression and depressive syndrome.
Walsh sought reimbursement of a workers' compensation lien that totaled $628,994.98, a total of about $2 million for past and future lost earnings and benefits, and damages for past and future pain and suffering.
Defense counsel contended that Walsh's injuries were results of degenerative conditions that were not related to the accident.
The jury rendered a mixed verdict. Frank Corigliano Contractor and 355 Butler Associates were assigned a total of 70 percent of the liability; Walsh was assigned 30 percent of the liability; and Atlantic Sunrise was not assigned liability.
During the trial's damages phase, the parties negotiated a settlement. Frank Corigliano Contractor's primary insurer agreed to pay $1 million; that company's excess insurer also agreed to pay $1 million; 355 Butler Associates' primary insurer agreed to pay $1 million; and that company's excess insurer agreed to pay $2 million. Thus, the settlement totaled $5 million.
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's counsel and counsel of Atlantic Sunrise and Frank Corigliano Contractor. Counsel of 355 Butler Associates did not respond to the reporter's phone calls.