The Construction Accident Case
When the employee of a subcontractor on a construction project in Jersey City, New Jersey injured his feet, he went after the general contractor/construction manager of the project. The plaintiff filed suit in Hudson Superior Court.
Gallo Vitucci Klar LLP (GVK) successfully defended the construction manager from these inappropriate claims on Oct. 29, 2019. While the plaintiff alleged that his injuries were life-altering, he was employed and supervised by a subcontractor who handled the project’s landscaping, not GVK’s client.
Attorneys Kenneth S. Merber and Peter J. LoPalo argued that their client did not owe a duty of care to the plaintiff and therefore could not breach it and/or be liable for negligence. The general contractor did not control the means and methods of work that led to the plaintiff’s injuries. In fact, the landscaping subcontractor violated their contract with the general contractor by failing to procure adequate insurance.
Ultimately, the court upheld legal precedent and ruled that “a general contractor is not liable for injuries sustained by a subcontractor’s employee unless said general contractor controls the manner and means of doing the work contracted for.” Additionally, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s argument and all claims against GVK’s client. The court also ordered the subcontractor to reimburse the general contractor for all expenses incurred while defending the lawsuit, via the subcontractor’s insurer.
For more information about the case and summary judgement obtained in Hudson County Superior Court, view GVK’s press release.
The Premises Liability Case
Kim H. Townsend of Gallo Vitucci Klar LLP, recently obtained a defense verdict in a Brooklyn premises liability case. In this case, the plaintiff fell into an uncovered, 4-foot deep access pit and sustained knee and neck injuries. These injuries resulted in the need for a cervical fusion and, likely, a knee replacement surgery.
During this case, we represented a concrete and excavation company that performed snow removal services during the winter months and, on the date of the accident, mistakenly removed a 350lb steel plate that had been covering the access pit; this action was caught on surveillance.
The plow driver was allegedly unaware of the removal and continued to plow, inadvertently filling the pit with icy water and slush, which obscured the pit from pedestrians and drivers alike. Kim argued that our client indisputably displaced the metal plate from the pit, exposing the open hole. However, Kim further illustrated that the owner of the premises and the manager of the sport facility were solely responsible for the incident. The reason being that these people failed to safely maintain the roadway and allowed the steel plate to rise above deteriorated asphalt.
As a result of this neglect, the snow plow was able to remove the steel plate. After a solid 45 minutes of deliberation, the jury unanimously exonerated our client and found the owner and manager equally liable. Prior to the trial, the plaintiff demanded $4,500,000 in damages. However, after the verdict the case was settled for $1,500,000.
The Motor Vehicle Case
Attorney Matt Vitucci helped our client, who was at fault in a car accident, mount a successful defense against a plaintiff who claimed injuries that were not borne out by evidence. When the back of her car was clipped by our client’s tractor during a left turn, the plaintiff claims the impact lifted the car off the ground and completely detached its bumper.
Due to the force of the accident, the plaintiff alleged she had developed herniations in her neck and lower back and torn her meniscus. She requested $1.75 million for pain and suffering and future medical costs, as her injuries would supposedly require her to have a knee replacement and a cervical discectomy and fusion.
During the trial, we established the plaintiff’s lack of credibility due to her failure to mention other car accidents that had occurred both before and after our client’s. In fact, she was making similar claims against other drivers, suggesting her injuries had not occurred due to the incident involving our client.
The evidence from the direct aftermath also backed that conclusion. When first responders arrived on the scene, the plaintiff’s only complaint was mild lower back pain, and she showed no evidence of knee pain or injury. Further, and in direct contradiction to her claim that her knee function was declining, the plaintiff had taken a job as a mail carrier after the accident.
The judge issued a directed verdict after being satisfied that the plaintiff could not provide sufficient evidence to justify her claims or the requested reward. Our client was determined to be not at fault for any of the injuries claimed by the plaintiff, and therefore not liable for the damages she was requesting.
Gallo Vitucci Klar LLP is a proud member of Themis Advocates Group. You can learn more about the firm and contact Attorneys Vitucci, Townsend, Merber and LoPalo here.