On March 1, 2010, Raul Marquez sustained injuries to his knees and back when he fell from an A-frame ladder in a construction incident while painting crown molding in a common hallway of the 62 unit cooperative apartment building at 171 West 79th Street in Manhattan.
Mr. Marquez, then 33 years old, was employed as a commercial painter by MQ Restoration Corp. He sued the building owner, 171 Tenants Corp., under the Labor Law, claiming that the owner was liable for his injuries because the ladder was unsecured and defective.
After determining that the defendant was at fault, the jury awarded plaintiff damages in the total sum of $6,147,211, as follows:
- pain and suffering in the sum of $2,049,900 ($683,300 past – 11 years, $1,366,600 future – 20 years),
- medical expenses in the sum of $3,847,565 ($357,266 past, $3,490,299 future – 33 years), and
- lost earnings in the sum of $249,746 ($149,277 past, $100,469 future – six years)
The defendant appealed claiming that various rulings by the trial judge resulted in an unfair trial and, alternatively, (a) that the pain and suffering award included in large part damages for injuries not connected to the accident and (b) the future medical expense award was not based upon legally sufficient evidence or proven with reasonable certainty.
In Marquez v. 171 Tenants Corp.. (1st Dept. 2023), the judgment entered upon the jury verdict has been affirmed.
Here are the injury details:
- Right Knee – torn meniscus requiring two arthroscopic surgeries
- Left Knee – torn meniscus requiring two arthroscopic surgeries
- Back – herniated discs at L4-5 and L5-S1 requiring a facetectomy and a laminotomy
Plaintiff’s treating surgeons testified that he will need bilateral total knee replacements in the future as well as lumbar fusion surgery.
The defense argued, unsuccessfully, that the only injury plaintiff sustained in this accident was to his right knee and therefore the damages awards were excessive and without basis.
- Plaintiff’s future medical expenses award, based upon his expert’s life care plan and testimony, included $1,262,480 for home health aide costs, $376,697 for physical therapy, $970,210 for knee surgeries and $2,236,681 for back surgeries. The defense did not present its own life care plan expert.
- Plaintiff’s eminent attorneys, Nicholas E. Tzaneteas and Stephen H. Frankel, demanded $5,000,000 to settle before the verdict against an offer of $375,000.