The Million Dollar Settlement

The client, 37 years old at the time, was working on a ladder at a bank branch in Glen Head, New York when he fell approximately 15 feet to the ground.  The premises had no safety devices onsite to protect workers from elevation related risks.  After hours of successfully installing coaxial cables for phone and internet capability, the client fell from a 6 ft ladder that was not tall enough to allow him to safely accomplish his work.  This ladder was also situated awkwardly among cubicles that restricted the worker’s center of gravity.  Among others, the client suffered major injuries, including a micro discectomy of the C4-C5.


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 CoRocovich 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., LLCsupra 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., LLCsupra).  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]).


At the mediation, Michael Gulotta was up against a determined defense attorney and her insurance adjuster.  It was just Michael and his 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 his position. Michael had a motion for summary judgment pending with the judge.  The defense attorney was very adversarial but conceded that Michael was going to win his summary judgment motion.

After back-and-forth posturing for 2 hours, Michael Gulotta successfully got the defendants to offer $200,000 and eventually $1,000,000.  The client accepted the $1,000,000 offer and left after giving Michael a hug, thanking him for the result.


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 and lost wages; his pay-back amount was approximately $288,000.00 that would be coming out of his settlement.  Michael successfully negotiated this pay-back amount to less than $190,000.00; more than thirty four percent (34%) off!

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.

Gulotta & Gulotta Law Firm