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$2.5 Million Settlement for Construction Accident Caused by Violation of Industrial Code

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Law Office of Louis Grandelli settled a $2.5 million construction accident despite the defendants’ arguments that the large pile of concrete that caused plaintiff trip was so open and obvious that plaintiff was responsible for the accident.

The accident occurred while the plaintiff was working on a project on the Manhattan side of the Third Avenue Bridge that involved pulling large metal sheets off the ground through the use of a crane and a vibratory hammer. Our client’s job was to use a tag line to control the movement of the vibratory hammer. Critically, to do this the plaintiff had to focus on the vibratory hammer instead of paying attention to where he was walking. As the plaintiff was unable to pay attention to where he was walking, he tripped over a pile of concrete carelessly left in his work area by the general contractor and fractured his ankle.

Our office sued both the City of New York and the general contractor of the project arguing that they both were negligent and had violated the Labor Law Section 241(6). In particular, we argued that the defendants had violated Labor Law 241(6) by violating Industrial Code Section 23-1.7(e)(2) which requires construction sites be free of “accumulations of dirt and debris and from any other obstructions or conditions which could cause tripping”.

The defendants argued that the pile of concrete was an open and obvious condition, and that the plaintiff ought to have seen it, and avoided it. In response, we argued that as the plaintiff was required by his work to not look at the ground and instead focus on the vibratory hammer in order to protect his co-workers.  Therefore, he could not be faulted for not seeing the pile.

We further argued that because the plaintiff’s job meant he could not look where he was going, plaintiff ought to be granted summary judgment on the issue of liability for the defendants’ violation of Labor Law 241(6). This can be very difficult to achieve in a Labor Law 241(6) case as it requires a showing that the plaintiff is not at all responsible for the happening of the accident. See Calcano v Rodriguez, 91 AD3d 468, 471 (1st Dept 2012).

Our argument was similar to the one made in Capuano v Tishman Const. Corp., 98 AD3d 848 (1st Dept 2012), in which a plaintiff successfully argued that the defendants were liable as a matter of law as a result of their violation of Industrial Code Section 23-1.7(e)(2). In Capuano, a worker tripped over a pipe sticking out of the ground in a poorly lit area. The plaintiff argued that the combination of poor lighting and the debris on the ground meant the plaintiff was free from fault and entitled to summary judgment.

By relying on the same type of argument we were able to successfully force a $2.5 million settlement of the case prior to trial. This case highlights the importance of hiring attorneys who have experience handling construction accidents as our knowledge of how to properly handle this type of case allowed us to achieve the best possible result for our client. If you or someone you love has been injured in a construction accident, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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