$3,236,653-Building Renovations: Jury Verdict Night Worker Falls Through Hole Where Stairway Had Been Removed – Spinal Fractures And Fractured Ankle

F&F# 94037A


Jury Verdict: $3,236,653 for Francisco B. reduced to $3,074,820 for 5%

Comparative negligence of Plaintiff (6/0).

Breakdown: $245,000 for past pain and suffering; $1,500 for future pain and suffering (33years, 6 months); $166,928 for past lost earnings; $1,250,000 for future lost earnings (20 years, 6 months); $74,725 for medical expenses.

$150,000 for Gisella B. for past loss of services reduced to $142,500 for 5% comparative negligence of Plaintiff.


  • Burst fracture of L-4
  • Compression fracture of L-5
  • Comminuted fractures of the left ankle

The ankle was fused, and Plaintiff underwent internal fixation for the spinal fractures. He was hospitalized for 1 month, and claimed that he suffers from constant pain and is unable to work.

Facts: The Fitzgerald Law Firm represented Plaintiff, a 41-year old night maintenance foreman.  On the date of the accident, Plainfiff was working at a building, 1440 Broadway in Manhattan. Defendants, IPA and Helmsley-Spear, were the owner and managing agent, respectively, of the building. Plaintiff claimed that he was attempting to return to the main lobby of the building via the basement after locking a set of doors at part of the building that was undergoing renovation for a new commercial tenant.

Renovation work, which had been ongoing during the week prior to this accident, included the construction of a cinderblock wall and the demolition of a spiral staircase that ran to the basement. Plaintiff fell 20 feet through a hole left when the spiral staircase was removed and left unprotected. The laborer who had demolished the staircase testified that he covered the hole before leaving the premises. The building superintendent testified that the hole was not covered at the end of the day when he locked the front door and turned off the lights. The hole was to be permanently sealed the following day. The building security guard testified at 5:30 that evening, he checked the doors and observed that they were unlocked. He went to Plaintiff to get the key to lock it from the outside. Testimony indicated that it was common knowledge that there were keys to all the doors in the superintendent’s office on the 17th floor, and Plaintiff admitted that he knew that the key was available there. Instead, he went with the guard to the area where the renovation was taking place, and locked the door from the inside. When the door was shut, there was no available ambient light. Pltf. testified that he walked to the back of the area to use the spiral staircase to get to the basement, and fell through the hole.

Demonstrative evidence: Photographs and drawings of the premises; X-rays showing fixation device in spine; model of spine, enlargements of work proposals and economist’s charts; Plaintiff’s W-2 form.

Specials: $43,000 per year in lost earnings; $74,725 for Workers’ Compensation medical lien; $71,000 in disability payments.