Patrick Vanriel v. A. Weissman Real Estate, Sun Chemical Corp. and MRT Construction v. Vetragin George Smart d/b/a Modern Woodworking

/ / Case Verdicts

Case Name

Patrick Vanriel v. A. Weissman Real Estate, Sun Chemical Corp. and MRT Construction v. Vetragin George Smart d/b/a Modern Woodworking

Type of Injury

SKULL FRACTURE RESULTING IN FACIAL PARALYSIS, CONCUSSION, AND CONDUCTIVE HEARING LOSS

Occupation

laborer / carpenter

Location

Bronx, NY

Verdict

$1,065,000. Breakdown: $500,000 for past pain and suffering; $75,000 for past lost earnings; $300,000 for future pain and suffering (38 years); $190,000 for future lost earnings (19 years ).

Verdict Amount

$1,065,000.00

Case Details

XVII/32-4 LABOR LAW FALL FROM SCAFFOLD SKULL FRACTURE RESULTING IN FACIAL PARALYSIS, CONCUSSION, AND CONDUCTIVE HEARING LOSS

Patrick Vanriel v. A. Weissman Real Estate, Sun Chemical Corp. and MRT Construction v. Vetragin George Smart d/b/a Modern Woodworking 14307/94 Verdict 12/22/99 Bronx Supreme

Judge: Yvonne Gonzalez

Verdict: $1,065,000. Breakdown: $500,000 for past pain and suffering; $75,000 for past lost earnings; $300,000 for future pain and suffering (38 years); $190,000 for future lost earnings (19 years ). Jury: 2 male, 4 female.

Pltf. Atty: Nicholas C. Harris, Manhattan

Deft. Atty: Trevor Reid, Bronx, of counsel to Marshall & Bellard, Garden City, for A. Weissman and Sun Chemical

John T. Gorton of Chesney & Murphy, Baldwin, for MRT

Joseph Red of O Connor & O Connor, White Plains, for Smart

Facts: On 8/17/93, Pltf., a 30-year-old laborer/carpenter, fell from a 6-foot scaffold when it moved while he was caulking an interior window at a Sun Chemical building in Yonkers. At the time, Pltf. was working for Third-party Deft. Smart, a subcontractor for the general contractor, MRT Construction.

Prior to the damages trial, Pltf. was denied summary judgment on liability against the building s owner, Deft. A. Weissman Realty, and Deft. MRT Construction, pursuant to Labor Law ?240. Pltf. appealed, and the Appellate Division, First Department reversed the trial court s decision. Vanriel v. A. Weissman Real Estate, 691 N.Y. S.2d 446, A.D. 1st Dept., 6/8/99. rejecting Deft. s argument that Pltf. fell because of his own negligence in failing to activate a locking device for the scaffold s wheels. A trial of the third-party action was held in September 1999, and it resulted in a finding that Third-party Deft. Smart was 100% liable for its failure to properly supervise Pltf. Third-party Deft. Smart was found 100% liable for its failure to properly supervise Pltf. The jury was not charged as to negligence. An appeal by Third-party Deft. on this issue is anticipated.

Injuries: linear nondisplaced skull fracture resulting in cerebral concussion, conductive hearing loss, tinnitus, and facial nerve dysfunction and disfigurement; fractured toe. Following the accident, Pltf. was taken to the emergency room, and he was admitted to the hospital for 5 days. Two days after his release, Pltf. returned to the hospital with right facial paralysis. Although this ultimately resolved, Pltf. was left with residual nerve dysfunction. He testified that his right eye tears upon chewing and that area around his right eye is always visibly constricted. Deft. claimed that any residual paralysis or facial nerve damage is not disfiguring . Deft. s otolaryngologist acknowledged that Pltf. suffered partial hearing loss, but testified that Pltf. does not have a hearing disability. Deft. s neurologist testified that Pltf. had some nerve deficits as a result of the facial palsy, but that Pltf. made an excellent recovery.

Pltf. testified that he lived in Jamaica and worked as a carpenter for 10 years before moving to the United States. He claimed that at the time of the accident, he had been working for Deft. MRT for 1 month doing carpenter s work, although he was compensated as a laborer. He also worked several other side jobs, one of which was for Third-party Deft. Smart. He contended that if the accident had not occurred, he would have become a carpenter in the United States and he would have earned a carpenter s, not a laborer s, salary. Pltf. claimed that he could no longer work as a carpenter because he experiences dizziness. Deft. claimed that there was no evidence that Pltf. would have become a carpenter and that he should only be compensated for his lost earnings as a laborer for the 1? year immediately after the accident until he found other employment as a kitchen worker. Offer: $50,000 by Smart; demand: $1, 500,000. Jury deliberation: 1 day. Carriers: Travelers for Defts.; State Insurance Fund for Smart.

Pltf. Experts: Dr. Stephen Klass, neurologist, New Rochelle; Dr. Mark Laurence Fox, otolaryngologist, Scarsdale; Dr. Edmond Provder, vocational rehabilitation, Manhattan; Seymour Barcun, Ph.D., economist, Metuchen, New Jersey.

Deft. Experts: Dr. Alvin Katz, otolaryngologist, Manhattan; Dr. Jerome Block, neurologist, Manhattan.