We are proud to report that a recent settlement obtained for our clients was reported in the Staten Island Advance. Below is a copy of the article and a link to the article on SI Live.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – A city Sanitation worker severely injured six years ago when the ground surrounding a covered sidewalk trench in New Dorp Beach collapsed beneath him, has settled his lawsuit with National Grid NY for $8.5 million, said his lawyer.
Joseph Leccese, then 41, was making his rounds around 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2013, on Isernia Avenue when the incident occurred, said Louis Grandelli, his lawyer.
He was traversing the sidewalk between homes and stepped on a metal plate on the sidewalk, the lawyer said.
Six days earlier, the ground beneath the sidewalk was excavated as part of a gas-main replacement project in the area.
The work hadn’t finished, and the trench was covered with a steel plate, said Grandelli, who has offices in Bloomfield and Manhattan.
After Leccese stepped onto the plate, the ground around it gave way and his right leg plunged into the hole beneath the plate, the lawyer said.
Leccese, now 48, suffered serious injuries to his spine, shoulder, knee, ankle and abdomen, resulting in 10 surgeries, including a right knee replacement, said his court filings.
He also suffered traumatic brain injury.
Leccese sued Brooklyn Union Gas, doing business as National Grid NY, as well as Hallen Construction Company, the contractor, in Brooklyn state Supreme Court.
Brooklyn Union Gas in headquartered in that borough.
He alleged the defendants didn’t properly shore up and cover the trench and did not adequately secure the area around it. They also failed to set up any warnings or barriers to protect pedestrians, he alleged.
The defendants contended the trench was properly excavated and covered.
They further maintained Leccese should have been more cautious, since the work site was active.
Last December, Leccese was granted summary judgment on the issue of liability, said Grandelli.
However, the issue of comparative negligence was left for a jury to determine whether Leccese was in any way culpable. Such a finding could have reduced any award.
Prior to jury selection, Leccese accepted a settlement for $8.5 million from National Grid to resolve the case, Grandelli said.
“This was a real battle. The defendants claimed that it was Joe’s fault, and he should have been looking where he was going,” said Grandelli. “But we proved they didn’t perform the work in accordance with industry standards, and we proved (that) had the excavation been done correctly the trench wouldn’t have collapsed and Joe wouldn’t have been injured.”
The lawyer said Leccese and his wife elected to structure the majority of their settlement award for future financial and medical needs.
He said Leccese will require additional medical treatment down the road.
“I’m very happy that we were able to obtain sufficient money to give Joe and his family financial security for the future,” said Grandelli.
A lawyer for National Grid did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the case.