Judge Orders new Trial in Construction case Unless jury Increases Damages Awarded


Construction workers put faith in fellow employees and site managers every day. Unfortunately, work sites are full of moving parts and hazards that have consistently made construction work dangerous. On top of that, a worksite injury experienced by a construction worker could make it difficult to find work in the future. Fortunately, New York law is favorable towards plaintiffs in construction injury cases, and judges/adjudicators have a long history of recognizing the plight of plaintiffs in construction injury cases. This is only reinforced by the result in Lester v. JD Carlisle Dev. Corp.

The plaintiff in Lester v. JD Carlisle Dev. Corp was a carpenter working on the roof of a building. He slipped on loose shingles and sustained deep lacerations, measuring up to 32 centimeters, to his left arm as the result of exposed flashing. In terms of short term damages, the plaintiff experienced severe blood loss and spent 6 hours in surgery, before further spending upwards of five days in the hospital. In terms of long term damages, the plaintiff spent two and a half years attending physical therapy, and along with experiencing nerve damage and reduced range in his right arm, also developed carpal tunnel as the result of overuse of his right hand. All of the previous statements, coupled with the fact that the injury prevented the plaintiff from returning to work as a carpenter, made for a compelling case.

However, despite the above, at trial the jury only awarded $30,000 to the plaintiff for past pain and suffering, and $5,000 for future pain and suffering. The plaintiff and his attorney rightfully believed the jury’s award to be woefully low. During post-trial, they made their case to the judge who agreed that the amount awarded was too low. While the defense team argued that the jury rightfully punished the plaintiff for exaggerating the extent of his injuries during trial, the judge pointed out that it is not the task of the jury to punish a plaintiff for exaggerations; it is the job of the jury to determine the amount of damages that would return the injured, at least as closely as is possible, to their likely situation had they not been injured. Consequently, the judge ruled that a new trial is to be ordered, unless the defendants increased the amount awarded for past pain and suffering to $650,000 and the amount for future pain and suffering to $300,000.

The case of Lester v. JD Carlisle Dev. Corp. helps to illustrate just how beneficial civil law can be in regards to victims of construction site accidents. Much of the time, juries are quite sympathetic to victims of construction accidents resulting from someone else’s negligence, which is one of the reasons why so many defendants try to avoid letting a case reach trial. Although the jury was not sympathetic in this case, the judge still overruled them in favor of the plaintiff. If you have been injured through no fault of your own while working on a construction site, it may likely be beneficial for you to contact a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling construction cases.

Zalman Schnurman & Miner is an experienced New York personal injury law firm. The Initial consultation is always free, and there are many different ways to get in contact. Click here to see how you can get in touch with us. You can also read detailed legal analysis of this case at New York Law Journal, which can be reached by clicking here.

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