Peter Leonce v. Prince Street Associates; Gordon Construction Corp.; and Upgrade Contracting Co., Inc. v. B&W Building Corp.

/ / Case Verdicts

Case Name

Peter Leonce v. Prince Street Associates; Gordon Construction Corp.; and Upgrade Contracting Co., Inc. v. B&W Building Corp.

Type of Injury



B&W employee


Kings, NY



Verdict Amount


Case Details


Peter Leonce v. Prince Street Associates; Gordon Construction Corp.; and Upgrade Contracting Co., Inc. v. B&W Building Corp. 42791/94 5- week trial Liability verdict 3/11/98 Damages verdict 4/6/98 Kings Supreme

Judge: Edward M. Rappaport

Verdict: $2,261,293. Breakdown: $1,000,000 for past pain and suffering; $400,000 for future pain and suffering; $112,500 for past lost earnings; $580,000 for future lost earnings; $112,293 for past medical expenses, of which $108,693 was stipulated; $56,500 for future medical expenses.

Liability on statutory responsibility under Labor Law ?240: Prince 10%; Gordon 40%; Upgrade 50%; apportionment of liability: Gordon 40% and Upgrade 60% negligent. Defense verdict for B&W. Jury: 3 male, 3 female. Post-trial motions were denied on 7/29/98.

Pltf. Atty: Spencer H. Herman of Hoberman, Sussman & Herman, Brooklyn

Deft. Atty: Robert J. Seminara of Chalos & Brown, Manhattan, for Prince Street and Gordon Construction

Roger P. McTiernan of Barry, McTiernan & Moore, Manhattan, for Upgrade Contracting

Warren T. Harris of Caulfield, Heller, Harris & Ryan, Manhattan, for Third-party Deft. B&W

Facts: The accident occurred on 9/12/94 at approximately 11:30 AM at 109 Prince St. in Manhattan. Pltf., a 31-year-old carpenter employed by Third-party B&W, testified that he fell approximately 30 feet from a suspended scaffold while working at the site. He brought this suit under Labor Law ?240. B&W was a carpentry subcontractor (defense verdict) hired by the general contractor, Gordon Construction (40% liable), to perform window installation and other work. Deft. Prince Street (10% liable under the Labor Law) was the building owner, and Deft. Upgrade Contracting ( 50% liable under the Labor Law) agreed to arrange for the scaffold to be erected, furnished, and manned. Pltf. gained access to the scaffold by climbing on top of an elevator cab inside the building, onto the window ledge, and then onto the scaffold. As he stepped up onto the scaffold, it shook and tipped. Pltf. s personal safety line had not been properly secured to the lifelines running from the top of the building, and he fell. Pltf. contended that Upgrade had agreed to provide two men to operate and man the scaffold, but only one was present at the time of the accident. The general contractor s president was the site safety supervisor, but had taken the day off . The court directed a verdict against Prince and Gordon under ?240 of the Labor Law at the end of the liability trial, and the jury found that Upgrade was a statutory agent.

Injuries: multiple pelvic fractures, including the left acetabulum, which were treated by traction and total bed confinement for the first 2 weeks of Pltf. s 28-day hospitalization; fractured left metacarpal; post-traumatic stress disorder; depression; chronic pain syndrome. The left hip injury and the fractured metacarpal eventually required open reduction and internal fixation, and the fixation devices are still in place. In addition, Pltf. suffered a torn right rotator cuff (for which he underwent surgery 10 months later), sustained two lumbar fractures, and developed diffuse L5-S1 radiculopathy (confirmed by EMG). He underwent physical and occupational therapy, and requires a cane to ambulate. Pltf. claimed that he can no longer work in construction. Defts. argued that he can work in other fields. At the time of trial, Pltf. was studying to become a bible teacher. He claimed that he is presently unable to perform even sedentary work due to chronic hip and back pain. Pltf. s experts testified that his injuries are permanent and that he will require 3-5 years of treatment and therapy. Pltf. s orthopedist testified that arthritis has developed in the hip, and that Pltf. will probably need a hip replacement. Demonstrative evidence: medical diagrams of the pelvis and lumbosacral plexus; model of the shoulder; X-rays; enlargements of hospital records; photographs of Pltf. in the hospital. Offer: $1,000,000; demand: $2,750,000; amount asked of jury: $6,000,000. Carriers: USF&G for Upgrade; Travelers for B&W; Interstate Fire & Casualty for Prince Street; New York Marine & General Insurance Co. for Gordon Construction.

Pltf. Experts: Dr. Franco Cerabona, treating orth. surg., Manhattan; Dr. Christopher Fabian, treating psychiatrist, Manhattan; Dr. Brian Hainline, treating neurologist, Manhattan; Edmond Provder, vocational rehabilitation, Manhattan; Conrad Berenson, Ph.D., economist, Woodbury; Lynn Bassini, physical therapist, Brooklyn.

Deft. Experts: Dr. Stephen Gilbert, neurologist, Brooklyn; Dr. Frank Goldberg, psychologist, Brooklyn (Workers Compensation physician); Dr. Edward Toriello, orth. surg., Middle Village (Workers Compensation physician).