$1,400,000 Settlement for Ironworker Falls from Second Story

Blume Donnelly partner, David Fried, represented a 28 year-old union ironworker. In June of 2005 he was employed by a company involved in construction of a commercial property in Paramus, New Jersey. A general contractor (GC) hired another company as the “prime” steel contractor (PC). That PC then in turn hired the company our client worked for, to fabricate and erect the steel structure.

At the time of the accident, our client was on the 2nd floor deck, approximately 23 feet above ground. He and a co-worker were spreading, or installing, the corrugated metal deck at that level. They were not using any form of fall protection, in violation of OSHA requirements.

Our client fell through an opening while installing the decking, and landed on the ground 23 feet below. He sustained a complex right elbow fracture, requiring multiple surgeries. He also sustained a severe right leg fracture, requiring surgery and hardware to stabilize the fracture, and he had a jaw fracture that needed to be wired shut. He was out of work for over 1 year, and when he returned to work, he was unable to perform all tasks of an ironworker, so he learned a new trade, and is now a welder, which means he still is part of the ironworker crew.

Medical bills were over $300,000, and the total worker’s compensation lien was approximately $440,000 (which David Fried was able to reduce to $275,000).

David Fried argued that both the GC and the PC were responsible to institute and enforce a suitable fall protection plan, and knew the ironworkers were not utilizing necessary and required fall protection. Those 2 defendant companies in turn (the GC and PC), argued that our client and his employer knew of the requirements for and failed to utilize fall protection, and, that they were therefore negligent.

The case settled at mediation after two full day mediation sessions. The settlement was $1,400,000 The complex mediation addressed issues not only of the underlying case, but also those surrounding a “coverage action” between the parties.