$62.06 Million Jury Verdict for Worker Who Fell 20 Feet from Building

Zeng Guang Lin, a 20-year-old construction worker, was on a scaffold and installing metal siding on a building when he was asked to go to the roof to assist with a different job. Lin went to the roof wearing his safety harness but was unable to find a place to tie off. While Lin was on the roof he fell about 20 feet to the ground.

He suffered multiple, severe injuries including a closed-head injury, spinal fractures at L1-5, fractures to his scapula and several ribs, internal injuries, including a renal hematoma, a lung contusion and a lacerated spleen. He also suffered cervical and lumbar disk herniations.

Because of the closed-head injury, Lin developed encephalomalacia, which is the degeneration of the brain tissue resulting in memory loss, motor problems and impaired thought-processing and other cognitive functions. He is permanently disabled.

The parties stipulated to about $60,000 in past medical expenses. Lin sued the building owner and the general contractor on the project claiming that they violated New York labor law, which governs elevation-related hazards. Lin also contended that the roof lacked a safe anchor point where he could tie off his harness and that the defendants chose not to provide any other kind of safety equipment.

Lin did not claim future medical expenses or lost earnings.

The defendants impleaded the plaintiff’s employer and two related entities. The defendant sought indemnification, arguing that the third-party defendants directed and controlled the work. The defendants also denied that Lin suffered permanent cognitive impairments or was permanently disabled from work.

The jury found that the building owner and general contractor were liable. A second jury then awarded $62 million, including $42 million for future pain and suffering, $20 million for past pain and suffering. The trial court added the stipulated past medical expenses bringing the total recovery to $62,060,000. The defendants are jointly and severally liable.

The trial judge denied an oral defense motion to set aside the verdict. An appeal is now pending.

The attorneys representing Lin were Benedict Morelli, Adam E. Deutsch and David T. Sirotkin.

At trial, plaintiff’s experts included an orthopedic surgeon, a neuropsychologist, a neurologist and a neuroradiologist. The defendants’ experts included a neuropsychologist and a neurosurgeon.

Lin v. Hutch Realty Partners, LLC, No. 24253/08 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Queens County, Dec. 15, 2014).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling construction site injury cases, worker injury cases and truck accident cases for individuals and families who have been injured or killed by the negligence of another for more than 38 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas including, Park Ridge, Niles, Lemont, Joliet, Fox River Grove, Cicero, Bedford Park, Hickory Hills, Orland Park, Burr Ridge, Countryside, Western Springs and Bellwood, Ill.

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