On February 2, 2024, a New York intermediate appellate court upheld an Erie County jury verdict of approximately $2,300,000 to a female construction worker who was struck by an unsecured "32-foot-long extension ladder that had been leaning against a wall fell, hitting her on the head and left shoulder." The plaintiff claimed that "the ladder fell as a result of the ground vibrations created by heavy demolition debris falling in the vicinity of the ladder." Liability was found in favor of the plaintiff on a pre-trial motion when it was determined that the defendants violated a worker safety law - Labor Law Section 240 (1). The defendant's unsuccessfully argued that the plaintiff was the sole proximate cause of the accident offering rank speculation that plaintiff may have bumped into the ladder with a wheelbarrow, knocking the ladder down.
The case proceeded to a jury trial on damages only and the jury awarded $2.3M of which the defense challenged only the following components: $1,250,000 for future pain and suffering over the next 28 years and future lost earnings of $356,150 over five years. The appellate court found that plaintiff had proven the injuries to her "cervical spine and left rotator cuff and had headaches, chronic neck pain, weakness and numbness in her left arm and loss of range of motion in her neck and arm." The appellate court emphasized that plaintiff already had endured extensive surgery to three levels of her cervical spine, would require similar surgery to another level of her cervical spine and a shoulder surgery to repair a labral tear. As such the jury's award was sustained as reasonable. Vasquez v Gilbane Bldg. Co., 2024 N.Y. Slip Op.00519