The Law Offices of Louis Grandelli reached a settlement of $2.9 million on behalf of a Staten Island steel worker involved in a construction accident. We were able to settle the case for a substantial sum of money despite the defendants' attempted use of the "open and obvious" defense.
The accident occurred at a construction project involving a renovation project at the Museum of Modern Art when the worker was asked to go to retrieve supplies at a lower level. The elevator was not working at the time, so he had no choice but to take the stairs down. Unbeknownst to him, a fireproofing contractor improperly placed plastic sheeting over the stairwell and bannister without shutting down the stairwell or providing any barriers or warnings. While the worker was walking down the stairwell he slipped on the plastic sheeting and, as result, suffered significant injuries which required surgery to his left knee and lower back.
The defendants argued that the plastic sheeting constituted an "open and obvious" condition that the plaintiff should have seen. The defendant attempted to use this defense to completely bar recovery for the accident.
The "open and obvious" defense essentially states that if a person falls as a result of a condition that is "open and obvious", the injured victim is solely to blame for the accident and cannot recover for their injuries. However, the law is clear that except in the most extraordinary circumstances this defense is one that usually must be brought to a jury to resolve. See Shah v Mercy Med. Ctr., 71 AD3d 1120 (2nd Dept 2010). Thus, this defense has essentially been relegated to a form of comparative negligence; the jury would be asked to apportion fault for the accident between the plaintiff and the defendant.
In our case, we argued that since the subject stairwell was the worker's only path, and he was following his supervisor's instructions, the defendants were liable for a violation of Labor Law Section 241(6), predicated upon their failure to comply with Industrial Code Section 23-.7(d). This section mandates that owners and contractors ensure that any passageway for workers is not in a slippery condition. We successfully argued that the plastic sheeting constituted a slipping hazard in the worker's only available passageway, constituting a clear violation of 23-1.7(d).
This worker's recovery is another example of why it can be so important to select a firm with experience in construction accidents. The Law Offices of Louis Grandelli has successfully held owners and contractors liable for tens millions of dollars as a result of a construction accidents. By relying on this experience, and our dedication to always achieving the best result, we were able to give this Staten Islander the recovery he and his family were entitled to. If you or someone you love has been injured in a construction accident, please do not hesitate to contact us.