OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION:
The plaintiff, a then 32 year old man, was working as an apprentice sprinkler fitter at a condominium complex under construction when he injured his lower back after falling through a set of unfinished stairs.
On the date of the fall, the plaintiff was working in a loft tying in sprinkler lines. The plaintiff walked up the subject stairway to the loft where he began to tie in the line. While working, he realized he left a necessary piece of equipment downstairs. He proceeded to walk down the subject stairway when the stair treads – which were not secured in any fashion – slid off causing him to fall through the stairway to the floor below. The fall was not witnessed by any of the plaintiff’s co-workers although one acknowledged he found him on the floor underneath the stairway.
As a result of the fall, the plaintiff sustained a permanent injury to his lower back, which prevented him from returning to work as a sprinkler fitter. The plaintiff’s medical expert was prepared to testify that he sustained a work-related lumbosacral strain due to a fall. Plaintiff’s expert was expected to testify that the plaintiff underwent extensive medical treatments including epidural injections, facet blocks, and radiofrequency rhizotomy at several different spinal cord roots. Plaintiff’s expert was expected to testify that the plaintiff had clinical and objective evidence of multilevel lumbosacral radiculopathy involving primarily L5 and S1.
The plaintiff filed suit and alleged negligence against both the general contractor and the subcontractor who was responsible for building the subject stairway.
Both defendants denied that any of its employees were negligent and alleged that the plaintiff had been warned not to use the subject stairway while it was under construction and that he disregarded that warning when he used the stairway. The defendants also maintained that this un-witnessed fall could not have happened as the plaintiff testified. The defendants disputed the plaintiff’s version that he fell through the stairway to the ground below.
To resolve this dispute, the plaintiff had an exemplar stairway constructed that matched the dimensions of the subject stairway. Once constructed, the plaintiff then stood inside the stairway proving that his body could fit within the stairway and the incident could have occurred as he reported.
The defendants further challenged the plaintiff’s claimed physical injuries. The defendant’s expert was prepared to testify that only three months of the plaintiff’s treatment was related to the alleged fall. The defendants’ expert denied that the plaintiff suffered any permanent injury, which disabled him from returning to work as a sprinkler fitter.
The case resolved three months after mediation and extensive post-mediation negotiations.
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