I was honored to be selected as local trial counsel by Buffalo attorney Mark Cantor for a Chemung County Supreme Court jury trial conducted this week before Judge Robert Mulvey. The case did not settle until the end of the first day of trial when the jury had been selected and after opening statements by both the plaintiff and defense lawyers.

This was a very interesting case involving a young man from Gillett, PA who was severely injured when he was caused to fall 12 feet on to a concrete floor when a defective wooden railing collapsed.

As we all know, railings are there for a reason– they are supposed to keep people from falling from elevated areas. In fact, railings are so important that OSHA regulations require railings to be able to withstand 200 pounds of lateral force. Well guess what? A railing cobbled together with 2X4’s and plain nails is NOT sufficient and does NOT properly protect a worker who is required to work at an elevated height.

In this case, a couple simple carriage bolts costing less than a dollar each would have made all the difference between a healthy young man and a crippled young man who has endured 7 surgeries in an unsuccessful attempt to repair his back, neck, shoulder and knee injuries.

Jury selection took the better part of the day and the jurors represented a wide spectrum of folks from Chemung County: a young school teacher from Elmira, a Burger King Manager who lives in Chemung County but works in Pennsylvania, a young woman who works in the Chemung County Family Court, etc.

As a trial lawyer, I am always impressed and appreciative of the willingness of folks to serve on a jury. I know most folks groan loudly when receiving the Jury Summons and they all hope and pray that they do NOT get selected to sit on the jury. However, I have noticed that during the process of jury selection, a subtle transformation begins to occur– people start to understand the importance of our right to a jury trial and they take their job as jurors very seriously. Jurors hate being dragged away from their jobs and families but they respect the power and privilege of their role in peacefully resolving a dispute between two parties.

The trial was expected to last at least two weeks and many witnesses were scheduled to testify including several doctors from Elmira, NY, and Buffalo, NY, a vocational rehabilitation expert from Syracuse, NY, an OSHA expert from Buffalo. Plaintiff’s medical proof would have established that the injured worker’s lifetime medical care and lost wages (he is totally disabled from his former work as a truck driver) would have exceeded $2M. The defense intended to call its own safety expert and a doctor from Binghamton, NY.

Prior to trial, the parties were nowhere close to settling the case but Judge Mulvey, working with the lawyers and the insurance company representatives, was finally able to get the parties to agree on a settlement for $1,200,000.

Thanks for reading,

Jim Reed
NY and PA Accident Lawyer