On August 1, 2005, a manual laborer was working on a construction site that was being operated on a military base. The objective of the construction was to renovate some military housing buildings that were run down. In order to renovate the buildings, the construction crew had to first remove all of the kitchen and bathroom appliances that were inside each of the units in the multi-unit buildings. The construction crew had a dumpster located outside of the buildings on the street that was available for them to put the debris from the renovation into. The construction team had been working in one of the buildings for several days and the manual laborer was tasked with the job of transporting the debris from inside the building out to the dumpster on the curb.
On that morning, the crew had filled one of the dumpsters and needed an additional empty one moved from farther down the street up to where the work was being done. The site supervisor instructed the laborer to get the dumpster and move it up. The dumpster was about to be moved when another construction contractor pulled a truck up in front of it. The site supervisor instructed the manual laborer to tell the driver of the truck to move the truck so that they could get to the dumpster. The laborer followed the instructions that he was given and then stepped backward away from the truck so that he could signal to the truck driver where to park. As he walked backward, he stepped on the top of a manhole cover. The cover was not properly in place and tilted up causing the man to fallinto the manhole. He sustained several severe injuries as a result of this workplace accident. He contends that he suffered from severe spinal injury as well as leg impairment.
He had to have several surgical procedures on his spine over the following year including bone grafts and fusions of his spine. He filed a personal injury lawsuit against both companies and the property owner because he contends that they were negligent in allowing the manhole cover to not be securely in place. In this case, there was no argument that the man sustained serious injury as defined by the Insurance Laws of New York. The problem for the court in this case was determining who was responsible for the spinal injury that the man had suffered that left him disabled and unable to work.