Worker Wins $62M in Fall Case


A New York jury has awarded an immigrant construction worker seriously injured in a 20-foot fall $62 million—the largest lawsuit verdict for a single plaintiff in Queens.

The Queens Supreme Court jurors returned their verdict Wednesday (Dec. 17), finding that property owner Hutch Realty Partners LLC and contractor Gamut Consulting Inc. had failed to provide the worker with proper safety devices, according to the plaintiff’s attorneys from the Morelli, Alters, and Ratner Law Firm.

The award was $7 million more than the plaintiff had soguht.

Now 26 years old, Zeng Guang Lin fell in May 2008 from a roof at a Bronx jobsite. He suffered a traumatic brain injury; multiple spinal fractures; multiple rib fractures; splenic laceration; renal hematoma; and lung contusions.

The Chinese immigrant, employed by Gamut Consulting, had been installing siding on a metal roof at the site, owned by Hutch Realty Partners LLC, the attorneys said.

Liability and Damages

After a two-and-a-half-month trial, the jury found that the defendants had violated N.Y. Labor Law §240(1),

The damages phase of the trial lasted an additional three months. A separate jury heard the damage portion, due to the extensive length of the liability phase, the firm noted.

The jury unanimously awarded Lin $20 million for past pain and suffering; $42 million for future pain and suffering; and $60,086.27 for past medical expenses.

During trial, the plaintiff’s attorneys showed his CAT scans and MRIs after the accident and brought in 20 witnesses to show that the construction company had not provided Lin with proper safety devices, according to local reports.

Additional details about the case were not immediately available Friday (Dec. 19).

Fall Hazards

Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry.

fall protection

Employers must provide roofers and construction workers with fall-protection equipment whenever work is performed six feet or higher above the ground.

Fall prevention safety standards are perennially ranked high on the top 10 most frequently cited Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations.

Among other requirements, the agency mandates that employers provide fall protection systems when employees are working at heights of six feet or more.

Training tailored to the employee's education and language is also required.

OSHA Records

Hutch Realty Partners does not have a record with OSHA.

OSHA records list two recent cases against Gamut Consulting, of Cold Spring Hill, NY; however, only one included violations. The case, from 2007, resulted in five serious citations, carrying $4,500 in penalties, for hazards relating to excavation.

The defendants did not immediately respond Friday to requests for comment on the jury verdict.


Tagged categories: Building owners; Developers; Fall protection; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; Laws and litigation; Lawsuits; North America

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