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Defendant Seeks a New Trial from NY Appellate Court Arguing There was No Opportunity to Cross-Examine Plaintiff

This action arises out of a construction site accident. Plaintiff, an undocumented alien from Ecuador, immigrated to the United States in 2001. In 2002, plaintiff was hired as a construction worker by third-party defendant despite its knowledge of his immigration status. Roadrunner never requested a social security number from plaintiff and paid him in cash or by check and never withheld any payroll taxes from his wages.

A New York Personal Injury Lawyer said that, plaintiff was working on a construction project in which townhouses were being built by the owner of the property, which was hired by the third-party defendant to do carpentry work. Plaintiff was performing his work on the roof of a townhouse, framing a 30-foot wall outside of the unit, when he fell two stories to the second floor through an improperly covered opening in the roof. Plaintiff sustained severe personal injuries, including traumatic brain injury and multiple fractures of the vertebrae.

A New York Injury Lawyer said that, plaintiff commenced this action against the owner of the property, among others. This Court found that plaintiff was entitled to partial summary judgment on liability based upon the violation of Labor Law ยง 240(1). Meanwhile, the matter proceeded to trial on damages, at the conclusion of which, the jury found that plaintiff sustained total damages in the sum of $20 million: 1) $100,000 for past pain and suffering, including loss of enjoyment of life;2) $1,531,172 for past medical expenses; 3) $74,013 for past loss of earnings; 4) $1,000,000 for future pain and suffering, including loss of enjoyment of life for 40 years; 5) $16,721,684 for future medical expenses for 40 years; 6) $573,131 for future loss of earnings for 23 years.

A New York Injury Lawyer said that the owner of the property appeals from the judgment seeking a new trial on the ground that the trial court improperly precluded it from cross-examining plaintiff and other witnesses about plaintiff’s immigration status and his desire, expressed prior to the instant accident, of returning to Ecuador after he had earned enough money in the United States. Defendant argues that the jury should have been allowed to consider such evidence in determining its award of future lost earnings and medical costs. Defendant also argues that the damage award for future medical expenses was excessive. Plaintiff cross appeal, contesting the adequacy of the damage award for past and future pain and suffering.

The issue in this case is whether the owner of the property and the defendant are liable for the personal injuries sustained by the plaintiff.

Although a worker’s immigration status may be a legitimate factor in litigating a lost wage claim, under the facts of this case, the trial court providently exercised its discretion in precluding defendant from inquiring about plaintiff’s immigration status. In addressing mitigation concerns, the Balbuena Court explicitly held that where a plaintiff has suffered serious spinal injuries which prevent him from working such as in this case, mitigation of damages is not implicated, and therefore, his immigration status is irrelevant.

If you suffer serious spinal injuries which prevent you from working, you claim for damages irrespective of your immigration status. Ask for the help of a New York Personal Injury Attorney and New York Injury Attorney at Stephen Bilkis and Associates. Call us for free consultation.

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