“$6,000,000.00 for a bumpy elevator ride”
Mar 08, 2019 | 1290 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print

A 23-year-old mover was injured while working at a high-rise building located in Manhattan. During the course of his work, the worker attempted to move a chair and a sofa from the building’s basement to its 17th floor by using the elevator. While he was in the elevator it stopped abruptly at the building's fourth floor causing the worker to fall.  The elevator then descended and quickly stopped again, causing the worker to fall once again. The elevator became inoperable and three hours passed before the worker was rescued.

As a result of the falls, the worker sustained injuries to his back, neck and shoulder. The injured worker was placed in an ambulance and taken to a hospital. He received X-rays and minor treatment and was released.  He later had further diagnostic tests which revealed that he had suffered herniations of his C3-4, C5-6 and L5-S1 intervertebral discs, and impingement of his right shoulder. He was administered a series of painkilling facet-block injections and trigger-point injections.  Eventually, the worker underwent arthroscopic surgery that addressed his right shoulder and a discectomy which involved excision of a disc from his spine's cervical region and fusion of the corresponding level of his spine. He also underwent fusion of a portion of his lumbar spine. He was unable to return to work and filed a Workers’ Compensation claim with his employer’s insurance.

The injured worker sued the premises' owners and manager as well as its elevator service provider, alleging that both were negligent in their maintenance of the elevator.  The parties agreed that the elevator's sudden stops were a result of its door having clipped a roller guide within the elevator's shaft. Plaintiff (the injured worker) claimed that the door was misaligned and that the cabin tipped forward, allowing the misaligned door to contact the roller guide. The door's misalignment was a result of debris having clogged its track. Documents disclosed in the discovery phase revealed that, six months prior to the accident, a similar malfunction occurred because of debris having accumulated within the track. In the prior instance, the debris had to be removed via use of a chisel.

Plaintiff claimed that the defendants had not scheduled regular maintenance of the elevator and that the elevator's cabin tipped because of improper distribution of the weight that was being transported. He argued that the building's managing staff should have supervised his use of the elevator. Defense argued that the building's managing staff was not obligated to supervise plaintiff’s use of the elevator. The defense's elevator-operations expert opined that the elevator was functionally sound and that the door's misalignment was a result of it having contacted a plastic object that had fallen off of the chair that plaintiff was moving.

The plaintiff claimed that he continued to have pain in his back, neck, and right shoulder.  He also claimed that he suffered a reduction in his range of motion in those areas, which hinders his performance of many physical activities, and that as a result, he cannot work.

The plaintiff also claimed that he requires lifelong medical treatment. He sought recovery of past and future medical expenses, past and future lost earnings, and damages for past and future pain and suffering. The defendants argued that plaintiff’s injuries predated the accident. Defense counsel also claimed that surveillance videotapes depicted the plaintiff functioning normally. The defense's expert neurologist opined that the plaintiff’s back and neck exhibit normal range of motion and the surgeries were not necessary. Parties were not able to reach settlement at the mediation.

The case proceeded to trial. The jury found that defendants were liable for the accident. After long deliberations, the jury awarded plaintiff over $6,000,000.00 in damages, including $2,300,000.00 for pain and suffering, approximately $2,000,000.00 for lost wages and over $1,700,000.00 for future medical expenses.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, please contact The Platta Law Firm for a free legal consultation by calling 212–514–5100 (24/7), emailing swp@plattalaw.com, or visiting our law firm in Financial District of Manhattan (42 Broadway, Suite 1927). You can also ask us questions using the 24-hour chat box on our website (www.plattalaw.com). We offer free consultations for all potential personal injury cases.

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