On July 6, 2011, Nicholas Natoli, a 40 year old laborer, was injured when he and his coworker attempted to move a large wooden pallet at a construction site. His coworker lost his grip and the 175 pound pallet fell on Mr. Natoli causing substantial injuries to his arm and shoulder. The incident took place on the roof of Fashion Industry High School at 24th Street in Manhattan.
In Mr. Natoli’s ensuing lawsuit, the Manhattan jury found that the defendants (New York City – the owner of the school – and its Department of Education and School Construction Authority) were liable under Labor Law Section 240(1) by not furnishing a safety device with proper protection to remove the pallet from the roof.
The jury awarded damages as follows:
- past and future lost earnings – approximately $3,000,000
- past and future (30 years) medical expenses – approximately $1,300,000
- past and future pain and suffering – $-0-
The trial judge granted plaintiff’s motion for additur based upon the argument that the jury’s failure to award damages for past and future pain and suffering was inconsistent with the awards for lost earnings and medical expenses. She ruled that the damages for pain and suffering should be increased from zero to $1,000,000 ($500,000 past, $500,000 future).
In Natoli v. City of New York (1st Dept. 2020), the appellate court affirmed the trial judge’s damages increase.
Here are the injury details:
- right arm near complete full thickness tear of the biceps tendon, requiring surgical repair on 8/9/11
- right shoulder Bankart and partial thickness rotator cuff tears, requiring arthroscopic surgical repair on 7/6/12
- C5-6 radiculopathy, requiring laminectomy on 11/21/16
The defendants argued that plaintiff recovered fully from his biceps tendon repair surgery, his shoulder tears were not causally connected to the accident and his neck pain was due to degeneration caused by a 2010 motor vehicle accident.
- One of the six jurors determined that plaintiff was entitled to $3,100,000 for pain and suffering damages.
- Subsequent to the 3/29/18 verdict, plaintiff underwent C5-6 discectomy and fusion surgery.
- The case settled after trial for the sum of $6,405,000.