On February 12, 2011, Ramon Hernandez, 66 years old, was injured when his right hand was crushed between two steel rollers of a dough flattening machine he operated while employed as a baker at a bakery in upper Manhattan.
The Site of Plaintiff’s Accident
Prior to the accident, there was a partial power outage in the area and a Manhattan jury determined that Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, Inc., who responded to the outage, was negligent in rewiring underground electric cables which caused nearby machines to operate in reverse.
The jury awarded plaintiff pain and suffering damages in the sum of $163,750 ($70,000 past – 6.5 years, $93,750 future – 12.5 years) plus lost earnings damages in the sum of $383,482 ($176,175 past, $207,307 future – 4.8 years). They declined to make any award at all for future medical expenses.
Defendant appealed challenging the liability verdict and arguing that the pain and suffering awards are excessive.
In Hernandez v. Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. (1st Dept. 2021), both the liability and damages verdicts have been affirmed.
Here are the injury details:
- crush injury to right (dominant) hand with nerve damage and lacerations requiring stitches
- infection requiring overnight stay at hospital a week later when there for removal of 21 stitches
- required sling for eight months and physical therapy for 18 months
- continuing pain, cramping and numbness leaving plaintiff unable to return to work, make a fist or use his right hand for any activities of daily living
Plaintiff’s expert in hand and plastic surgery testified that in addition to the injuries above, plaintiff also sustained carpal tunnel syndrome in his right hand. Defendant’s orthopedic hand surgeon testified that plaintiff had only superficial lacerations, no crush injury and was exaggerating his symptoms. Furthermore, the defense argued that plaintiff had pre-existing carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands.
- In summations, plaintiff’s attorney requested the jury to award $1,100,000 for pain and suffering damages. Defense counsel contended that this case was merely about cut fingers and some physical therapy and asked the jury to “send [plaintiff] home with nothing.”