On June 23, 2014, John Czechowski was part of a four-man crew performing gutter and siding renovations at a residence in West Seneca. When he climbed onto the homeowner’s ladder to hang gutters, Mr. Czechowski, then 47 years old, sustained a serious foot injury when the fourth rung on the ladder broke and he fell, feet first, onto the concrete pavement below.

In his ensuing lawsuit against the homeowner, Mr. Czechowski was granted summary judgment in his favor; a judge ruled that the defendant was fully at fault. The case then proceeded to a trial on damages only.

The Erie County jury awarded plaintiff pain and suffering damages in the sum of $76,000 ($60,000 past – seven years, $16,000 future – 16 years). Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the amount awarded was inadequate.

In Czechowski v. Wisniewski (4th Dept. 2024), the appellate court agreed with plaintiff and ordered that the damages award should be increased to $275,000 ($150,000 – past, $125,000 – future).

Here are the injury details:

  • comminuted displaced intraarticular calcaneus fracture requiring open reduction internal fixation surgery with the insertion of a titanium plate and screws
  • continuing pain and antalgic gait at time of trial
  • unable to return to recreational activities such as motorcycle riding, skiing, golf and bowling
  • permanent post-traumatic arthritis in ankle

Inside Information:

  • In summations, plaintiff’s attorney asked the jury to award pain and suffering damages in the sum of $1,450,000; defense counsel suggested $75,000.
  • Defendant did not exercise his right to have plaintiff examined by his own medical expert.
  • During trial, the defense offered a high-low agreement with $300,000 as the high and $50,000 as the low. Plaintiff rejected the offer.