On August 11, 2014, Mirson Pimenta, then a 42 year old construction worker, was injured on the job creating a foundation for a new building at 1504 Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn. He was bending over to pick up some materials from the floor when a 15 foot aluminum ladder fell over and hit him in the back.
Mr. Pimenta claimed he sustained injuries to his back, neck and knee and he was granted summary judgment as to liability under Labor Law Section 240(1). In the ensuing trial on damages only, the Kings County jury awarded plaintiff pain and suffering damages in the sum of $17,000,000 ($2,000,000 past – four years, $15,000,000 future – 33 years).
The trial judge agreed with he defendants that the awards were excessive and she reduced the pain and suffering damages to $3,250,000 ($1,000,000 past, $2,250,000 future). In Pimenta v. 1504 Cia, LLC (2d Dept. 2021), the appellate court affirmed the trial judge’s reduction.
Here are the injury details:
- Back – decompressive laminectomy and partial discectomy at L5-S1 herniated disc; implantation of spinal cord stimulator
- Neck – fusion surgery at C5-6 herniated disc with placement of biomechanical device, bone grafting, plate and screws
- Knee – partial anterior cruciate ligament tear, meniscal tears; arthroscopic surgery
Plaintiff claimed continuing pain, restricted ranges of motion and extremely limited activities in all of his injured areas. His treating surgeons testified that the accident caused the injuries, they are permanent and plaintiff will in the future need revision spinal surgeries, replacement of the stimulator’s battery and pain medications and physical therapy for the rest of his life.
The defendants argued that plaintiff’s injuries (other than a mere back sprain) were not caused by the accident with the ladder; they noted that plaintiff did not complain about his neck or knee for several months after the accident and they suggested his neck injury was the result of a fistfight plaintiff was involved in three months after the ladder incident.
A week after his accident, plaintiff returned to light duty for two months after which he worked intermittently until May of 2015. He was unable to work thereafter and the jury awarded him damages for lost earnings in the sum of $2,026,741 ($222,206 past, $1,804,535 future – 21 years). These awards were not disturbed by the trial judge and were affirmed on appeal.
- Plaintiff testified through a Portuguese interpreter.
- In his summation, plaintiff’s attorney asked the jury to award pain and suffering damages in the sum of $15,000,000 ($2,000,000 less than the jury awarded).
- Plaintiff was also awarded future medical, hospital and physical therapy expenses in the sum of $930,516. Defendants did not challenge these awards.