Christopher Fields v. State of New York

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Case Name

Christopher Fields v. State of New York

Type of Injury

WRIST AND BACK INJURIES

Occupation

carpenter

Location

White Plains, NY

Verdict

$576,772. Breakdown: $31,426 for past lost earnings (by stipulation); $0 for future lost earnings; $40,346 for past medical expenses (by stipulation)?

Verdict Amount

$$576,772. Breakdown: $31,426 for past lost earnings (by stipulation); $0 for future lost earnings; $40,346 for past medical expenses (by stipulation)?

Case Details

XVIII/7-40 LABOR LAW FALL FROM SCAFFOLD MULTIPLE HEEL FRACTURES REQUIRING SURGERY WRIST AND BACK INJURIES LIABILITY CONCEDED DAMAGES TRIAL

Christopher Fields v. State of New York Claim No. 97645 23-page Decision Filed 5/22/00 Court of Claims, White Plains

Judge: Andrew P. O Rourke

Decision: $576,772. Breakdown: $31,426 for past lost earnings (by stipulation); $0 for future lost earnings; $40,346 for past medical expenses (by stipulation); $5,000 for future medical expenses; $275,000 for past pain and suffering; $225,000 for future pain and suffering.

Clmt. Atty: Joel Bossom of Finkelstein, Levine, Gittelsohn & Partners, Newburgh

Deft. Atty: Liam O Brien of Mendes & Mount, L.L.P., Manhattan

Facts: On 8/28/96, Clmt., then age 32, was working as a carpenter on a construction project at Stewart International Airport. He fell about 8 feet to the ground from an improperly secured scaffold, landing on the first concrete step of a flight ascending into the building, and then falling backwards onto his right wrist. Prior to trial, Deft. conceded liability under Labor Law ?240(1) and this trial on damages ensued.

Injuries: multiple fractures of the left heel requiring open reduction and internal fixation involving the insertion of two bone plates, 10 screws, and two washers and a bone graft taken from Clmt. s pelvis; torn cartilage in his right wrist, and soft tissue injuries to the lower back. Clmt. s expert orthopedist testified that Clmt. was left with a right-side limp because of his lack of motion in the heel bone. He testified that Clmt. suffered atrophy to the calf as a result. The expert predicted that Clmt. would require a subtalar fusion and, if that did not relieve his complaints of continuing pain, a subsequent triple arthrodesis would be required. Deft. s expert testified that a subtalar fusion is indicated only where there is intractable pain, and that Clmt. was not a candidate for such a procedure. Deft. s expert found some motion in the heel, and contended that Clmt. should be able to walk without pain, climb stairs or ladders, and stand for long periods with proper footwear. Clmt. contended that he was no longer able to work as a maintenance carpenter, which involves roof repairs, etc., because he could no longer stand on ladders or work at heights. He testified that he was restricted to light duty as a shop carpenter. He was disabled from work until 4/30/98. The court, in reaching its damages award, found that Clmt. failed to establish future lost earnings, as he returned to a carpenter s job with the same rate of pay he had prior to his injury. The court found that subtalar fusion would be necessary, but that an award of damages for the triple arthrodesis would be unduly speculative.

Clmt. Experts: Dr. Joel E. Mandel, orth. surg., New Windsor; Dr. David L. Helfet, treating orth. surg., Manhattan.

Deft. Experts: Dr. Leon Sultan, orth. surg., Franklin Square; Edmond Provder, vocational rehabilitation, Manhattan.