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$2.1 Million Verdict in Workers' Compensation Case

A 28-year-old apprentice bricklayer fell through a two- to three-foot gap between two scaffolds. He traveled eight feet before the scaffold's bracing stopped his fall, injuring his right knee. The plaintiff sued the project's general contractor for failing to provide a safe workplace. A plaintiff's safety expert opined that, in accordance with OSHA and all accepted construction standards, a two- to three-foot gap in scaffolding is unsafe. An expert for the defendant agreed that such a gap would be unsafe, but stated that Plaintiff's employer (not named due to the workers' compensation bar) had responsibility for ensuring that the scaffolding was safe.

Defendant denied that a gap existed, and called to the stand the site superintendent, who testified that he inspected the scaffold at the beginning of the day and again 15 to 20 minutes after the accident. The superintendent said that he found no gap in the planking. Alternatively, the defense maintained that if there was a gap, the Plaintiff was negligent for not covering the gap and that he had notice of the condition, as he would have stepped over it three or four times. Plaintiff claimed he sustained injuries to various soft-tissue structures in his right knee, including tears to the lateral and medial meniscus, and damage to the articular cartilage of the femoral condyle and tibial plateau. He claimed $53,211 in past medical costs and $15,000 in future medical costs, asserting that he may need arthroscopic surgery. The plaintiff did not work for three years following the accident, then resumed for two years before being laid off.

The plaintiff claimed $228,000 in past wage loss and $1.2 million in future wage loss. The defense argued that because the Plaintiff returned to working as a bricklayer for two years after the accident, his medical condition was overstated and his disability was suspect. The defense elicited admissions from treating physicians that he exhibited pain behavior far in excess of what they would expect for his injury. The jury deliberated for three hours before returning the verdict, one in a long line of million-dollar settlements and verdicts for lead counsel James J. Morici, Jr. 

Morici, Longo & Associates concentrates its practice in the representation of injured construction workers but also includes a wide range of personal injury accidents including workplace injuries, workers' compensation, premises liability incidents, construction site injuries, products liability matters, and injuries caused as a result of an automobile or other motor vehicle collisions. For more information, contact us at (312) 779-0366