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New Jersey Verdicts

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Ironworker claimed dangerous worksite caused ladder to fall

Amount:

$1,565,000

Type:

Verdict-Plaintiff

State:

New Jersey

Venue:

Essex County

Court:

Essex County Superior Court

Injury Type(s):

arm-fracture, arm; elbow-fracture (fracture, olecranon), elbow (fracture, olecranon); other-physical therapy; other-decreased range of motion; shoulder; shoulder-rotator cuff, injury (tear); foot/heel-Achilles tendon, tear; surgeries/treatment-arthroscopy; surgeries/treatment-open reduction; surgeries/treatment-internal fixation

Case Type:

Construction - Accidents; Workplace - Workplace Safety; Worker/Workplace Negligence - OSHA; Construction - Scaffolds and Ladders; Premises Liability - Dangerous Condition; Worker/Workplace Negligence - Negligent Maintenance

Case Name:

Marco Moreira v. JSM at Fairways LLC and Edgewood Properties Inc., No. ESX-L-008231-14

Date:

August 4, 2017

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Marco Moreira (Male, 38 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Robert H. Baumgarten; Ginarte Gallardo Gonzalez & Winograd, LLP; Newark, NJ, for Marco Moreira

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Robin Gehrmann; M.D.; Orthopedic Surgery; Millburn, NJ called by: Robert H. Baumgarten ■ Richard Boiardo III; M.D.; Orthopedic Surgery; West Orange, NJ called by: Robert H. Baumgarten

Defendant(s):

G&K Iron Works LLC, 

JSM at Fairways LLC, 

Edgewood Properties Inc.

Defense Attorney(s):

None reported; for G&K Iron Works LLC ■ Daniel S. Jahnsen Sr.; Bolan Jahnsen Dacey; Shrewsbury, NJ, for JSM at Fairways LLC, Edgewood Properties Inc.

Defendant Expert(s):

Matthew Potter; Meteorology/Climatology; Hackettstown, NJ called by: Daniel S. Jahnsen Sr.

Insurer(s):

First Mercury Insurance Co. for JSM at Fairways LLC and Edgewood Properties Inc.; AmTrust Financial Services Inc. for G&K Iron Works LLC

Facts:

On Dec. 1, 2012, plaintiff Marco Moreira, 38, an ironworker, was at a construction site in Piscataway. He was in a building that was only partially completed, and the interior was exposed to outside elements. While he was working, the ladder he was standing on unexpectedly shifted, and he fell 10 feet, onto his left side. He suffered multiple injuries to his left arm. Moreira sued general-contractor JSM at Fairways LLC and property-owner Edgewood Properties Inc., bringing claims of an unsafe workplace. The two companies brought in Moreira's employer, G&K Iron Works LLC, as a third-party defendant. G&K Iron Works had agreed to indemnify the companies in a potential lawsuit. The three companies resolved the issue under undisclosed terms, prior to trial. Moreira specifically alleged that the companies were negligent in failing to ensure that the worksite was free of any dangerous conditions. He claimed that his ladder had been on a concrete floor that had ice on it, and this led the ladder to shift and fall. Moreira's counsel argued that JSM and Edgewood failed to comply with OSHA regulations, which required floors to be kept clear of snow and ice, and therefore failed in their duties to provide a reasonably safe workplace. His counsel cited JSM's safety manual, which specifically noted that the company is required to remove snow and ice from the worksite, and a failure to do so is a violation in safety standards. Moreira and three of his co-workers testified that there had been ice on the floor that morning, and there were no measures taken to remove or treat it. JSM and Edgewood disputed that there was ice on the floor. The defense's expert in forensic meteorology presented governmental meteorological documents that established there was no snow event or freezing temperatures, indicating that any alleged formation of ice was impossible. The project manager testified that the jobsite was operated safely, in accordance to OSHA regulations.

Injury:

Moreira was taken by a co-worker to an emergency room, where he was diagnosed with a fracture of his left (non-dominant) arm at the elbow; a tear of the left triceps; and a tear of the left Achilles tendon. Days later, he had open reduction and internal fixation surgery on his elbow fracture. Moreira began a course of physical therapy. He consulted with orthopedic surgeons and, via an MRI, was diagnosed with a left-shoulder rotator-cuff tear. He eventually had an arthroscopy to repair the tear, and treated with physical therapy. By 2015, Moreira had completed treatment and he was back at work. He sought to recover a stipulated amount of $65,000. Moreira's orthopedic surgeons opined that he will experience pain and limitations in his left arm and leg for the rest of his life. Moreira testified that he has discomfort in his daily and work activities, especially walking long distances and climbing ladders. He has limited range of motion in his left arm, which no longer has the strength it once did. He sought damages for past and future pain and suffering. JSM and Edgewood did not dispute Moreira's injuries and treatment.

Result:

The jury found that JSM at Fairways LLC and Edgewood Properties Inc. were liable. Moreira was determined to receive $1,565,000.

Marco Moreira: $65,000 Personal Injury: Past Lost Earnings Capability; $1,500,000 Personal Injury: non-economic damages

Trial Information:

Judge:

Deborah M. Gross-Quatrone

Trial Length:

5  days

Post Trial:

The court determined that Moreira would receive $117,963.42 in court costs and interest.

Editor's Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's and defense counsel. G&K Iron Works LLC was not asked to contribute.