On April 9, 2020 an appellate court agreed that a Manhattan jury got it right in awarding over $3,000,000 to a 52 year old carpenter who was struck in the neck by a falling wooden plank. The accident occurred at a construction site on First Avenue as a result of an unprotected opening in the floor above where the carpenter was working. The plaintiff suffered herniated discs at three levels in his cervical spine which led to an extensive cervical fusion of his neck that significantly limited his range of motion and caused severe permanent pain.The defense argued that the plaintiff had not sought treatment, other than a brief ER visit, for six months when he had another accident. The defense contended that the plaintiff only began his medical treatment because he was injured while riding as a passenger in a bus that suddenly stopped. The primary defense on damages was that any injuries suffered were degenerative in nature or were caused by the bus accident.
The jury awarded the plaintiff $550,000 for 11 years of past pain and suffering; $850,000 for 17 years of future pain and suffering; $1,124,000 for lost earnings; and, $520,000 for medical expenses (reduced by $54,261).There was a classic battle of the medical experts on the issue of which accident caused the neck injuries requiring surgery and the jury agreed with the plaintiff's experts. (Even though the first cervical MRI was not performed until after the bus accident some 6 months after the construction accident).The appellate court agreed that the trial Judge correctly refused to submit a special verdict sheet requiring the jurors to specify which injuries were caused by each accident. Baptiste v RLP-East, LLC, 182 A.D. 3d 444