$900,000.00

Last week, Michael Gulotta, Esq. led a mediation that resulted in a $900,000.00 settlement for our client!

The client, 34 years old at the time, was working on a rooftop HVAC unit at a CVS store in Rockville Center when he fell approximately 30 feet to the ground.  The premises had no safety devices onsite to protect workers from elevation related risks.  After successfully repairing the first rooftop HVAC unit, the client moved on to the second malfunctioning unit.  Among others, the client suffered major injuries, including multiple rib fractures, a micro discectomy, and an anterior cervical spine fusion.

THE LAW

The main legal claim in this case was brought under Labor Law  § 240 (1), which states that owners and general contractors have a nondelegable duty to provide safety devices to protect workers from the risks associated with elevated work sites (Cacanoski v 35 Cedar Place Assoc., LLC, 147 AD3d 810 [2d Dept 2017]).  “[T]he statutory duty imposed by this strict liability provision is ‘nondelegable and [a]n owner is liable for a violation of the section even though the job was performed by an independent contractor over which it exercised no supervision of control” (Sanatass v Consolidated Investing Co., Inc., 10 NY3d 333, 340 [2008], quoting Rocovich v Consolidated Edison Co, Rocovich v. Consol Edison Co., 78 NY2d 509 [1991]). 

A plaintiff must demonstrate that his or her injuries were a consequence of the failure to provide adequate protection against risks arising from a significant elevation differential to prevail on a Labor Law § 240 (1) claim (Cacanoski v 35 Cedar Place Assoc., LLC, supra at 811-812; Wicks v Leemilt’s Petroleum, Inc., 103 AD3d 889, 890, 922 NYS2d 139 [2d Dept 2011]).  

A plaintiff worker’s comparative negligence is not a defense to a Labor Law § 240 (1) claim, since Labor Law  § 240 is [a]n exception to CPLR § 1411 (Blake v Neighborhood Hous. Servs. of N.Y. City, 1 NY3d 280, 287, 771 NYS2d 484 [2003]; Cacanoski v 35 Cedar Place Assoc., LLC, supra).  Defendants must show, through a plausible view of the evidence, that plaintiff’s own acts or omissions were the sole cause of the accident and there was no Labor Law violation (Antonyshyn v Tishman Const. Corp., 153 AD3d 1308, 1309, 61 NYS3d 141 [2d Dept 2017], quoting Blake v Neighborhood Hous. Servs. of N.Y. City, Inc., supra at 289 n.8).  A plaintiff’s own negligence is the sole proximate cause of the accident “[w]hen the safety devices that plaintiff alleges were absent were readily available at the work site, albeit not in the immediate vicinity of the accident, and plaintiff knew he [or she] was expected to use them but for no good reason chose not to do so” (Gallagher v New York Post, 14 NY3d 83, 88, 896 NYS2d 732 [2010]). 

THE MEDIATION

At the mediation, Michael Gulotta was up against two defense attorneys, two insurance adjusters, and a medical expert.  It was just Michael and the Client.  After spending years working on this case through pleadings, conferences, negotiations, motions and even an appeal, the time had come.  Michael submitted a very detailed and thorough mediation brief detailing the facts, evidence and our position.  One of the defense attorneys was very adversarial and slightly hostile from the beginning of the mediation.  Michael admonished him for his aggressive and insulting attitude, obtaining a directive from the mediation requiring the attorney to apologize for his immature commentary.

After back-and-forth posturing for 2 hours, Michael Gulotta successfully got the defendants to offer $500,000, $650,000, $750,000, and eventually $900,000.  The client accepted the $900,000 offer and left after giving Michael a hug, thanking him for the result.

THE AFTERMATH

Michael then went on to arrange a conference call and follow up in-person meeting with his go-to financial advisor, Peter Craig of A&M Financial Services, LLC so that the client could take his settlement and grow it.

Michael then worked on the client’s payback amounts.  Worker’s Compensation covered a large portion of the client’s medical services; his pay-back amount was approximately $233,000.  Additionally, the client owed approximately $172,500 from an advancement loan that he took out on this case.  Michael successfully negotiated a total of $110,000 off of the pay-back amounts that would be coming out of the settlement.  The client’s net reward was increasing by the day!

If you suffered an injury while working on any demolition, repair, altering, or construction of a premises, you could be entitled to a large award as well.  CALL US to find out if we can obtain a favorable result for you too.


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