Construction Worker Wins $4.7M Lawsuit By David Worby on December 15, 2000

construction accidentA 34-year-old construction worker who was left paralyzed by a fall at a Yorktown work site two years ago has laid claim to a $4.7 million settlement.

A 34-year-old construction worker who was left paralyzed by a fall at a Yorktown work site two years ago has laid claim to a $4.7 million settlement.

Palemon Mendez of White Plains has been living alone, without the benefit of workers’ compensation, in a situation his lawyer called “commonplace” for local immigrant workers.

“The plaintiff will finally be able to provide daily care for himself and pay for the future medical treatment so desperately needed and previously denied to him,” said his attorney, David E. Worby.

Worby said immigrant workers, like his client, often find themselves without protection afforded other American workers.

“This area has had an influx of Hispanic immigrants, and sometimes they have to struggle to be treated as citizens,” he said.

Mendez was working on an elevated platform at the Canterbury Crossing condominiums in Yorktown on April 10, 1995, when he fell about 20 feet to the ground. He was working for Yorktown Topside, a roofing company, his employer for about 8 years.

According to Mendez’s suit, the platform was not equipped with safety railings and he was not provided with a safety belt. He suffered a broken back and lost all feeling below his navel.

After a two-month hospital stay, in which he underwent three operations, Mendez still requires physical and rehabilitative therapy, according to doctors’ reports submitted to the court.

He requested $810,535 in earnings losses and nearly $6 million in life-care damages, which includes future expected medical care.

The defendants argued the plaintiff was not on the catwalk, but a ladder leading to it, when he fell.

“The Court perceives no difference whether the defendant fell from the ladder or the catwalk,” wrote state Supreme Court Justice Anthony A. Scarpino Jr. He ruled in favor of Mendez on May 1 and held Yorktown Topside responsible because it had granted indemnity to Canterbury Crossing and its management company, Argyle Management.

An appeal was filed June 3, but the settlement check was delivered Thursday.

“It’s nice to get the law on his side,” Worby said.

Representatives of Yorktown Topside did not return calls yesterday.

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