$7.346 Million Verdict for Construction Accident

After a three-month trial, a Middlesex County jury awarded the family of a 47-year-old construction worker $7.346 million for injuries he suffered resulting in his death following a construction accident and subsequent negligent medical care. Michael B. Zerres of Blume Donnelly handled the case.

In the case, the worker, Jack Davila, was a laborer assisting in the erection of a mega shredder at the property of Hugo Neu Schnitzer East in Jersey City, NJ. Hugo Neu was acting as the site’s general contractor and was responsible for overall job site safety. A second contractor, FEMCO, was responsible for installing the mega shredder on concrete bases previously erected by Mr. Davila’s employer, Simpson and Brown.

On the day of the accident, a FEMCO employee placed an extension ladder against a concrete pillar and left it unsecured. The ladder later slid off the base striking Mr. Davila in the head where he was standing 20 feet away. Mr. Davila suffered a cervical spine injury and was transported to Jersey City Medical Center where he underwent an emergency discectomy at C3-C4.

Thereafter, he came under the care of Patricia Schrader, M.D., a critical care surgeon. On the second post operative day, the patient aspirated and suffered a 10 minute period of hypoxia resulting in an anoxic brain injury. It was asserted that Dr. Schrader failed to intubate the patient prior to the aspiration event as a result of increased difficulty swallowing post op.

As a result, Mr. Davila was left with a brain injury and quadriplegia from which he never recovered. Mr. Davila remained in long term care until he succumbed to his injuries 3 years later. He is survived by a wife and 2 adult children.

The jury returned a verdict finding that both Hugo Neu and FEMCO were negligent in causing the construction accident and finding that Dr. Schrader was negligent in worsening Mr. Davila’s injury.

The jury awarded more than $7.346 million for pain, suffering, lost income, loss of enjoyment of life, medical expenses, and loss of future services, guidance, and counseling. Damages were apportioned 77% to the construction defendants and 23% to Dr. Schrader and her employers Jersey City Medical Center and Liberty Surgical Associates.

The Hon. Philip Paley presided over the trial.