Lawyers outline $36 million settlement for 2016 Brooklyn construction injury

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Lawyers say they have secured what they say is a record-setting $36 million settlement on behalf a client who who suffered catastrophic injuries at an unsafe worksite on April 22, 2016 in Brooklyn.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Sherman on Dec. 11 mediated a settlement between the parties in the matter of Tavares v. The City of New York et. al. for $36 million. The city did not pay any money toward the settlement, with all monies paid by private entities.

Ricardo Tavares, 39, was catastrophically injured while working at a NYC DEP roadway sewer excavation project in Brooklyn when a mobile excavator machine operated by a co-worker snagged an overhead utility line causing the utility pole to which it was connected to fall and strike him on the head propelling him some 15’-20’ to the bottom of an excavation trench. Tavares, a journeyman union construction worker, was working for a private construction company at the time. The utility line and pole belonged to an adjacent landowner.

Tavares who is married to a special needs school teacher, Olga Martinez, and has an 8 year old daughter, sustained devastating catastrophic injuries including multiple spinal fractures resulting in tetraplegia as well as a traumatic brain injury. He is wheel chair bound and has required extensive hospitalization, rehabilitation and multiple surgeries to treat the injuries and complications he suffered.

“What happened to Ricardo was an absolute tragedy, not only because of the devastating effect that it’s had on him and his family, but because the accident was entirely and easily avoidable by employing the most basic of construction principles – removal of all visible hazards from the construction site before commencing work,” Tavares’ attorney Glenn Faegenburg of the Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown, LLP, said in a statement.

“The overhead wire was obsolete and should have been removed as part of the routine preparation process of the work site. There are safety checklists at these worksites. They call for checking for hazards and obstructions before the work gets started. These rules and practices of rendering a worksite safe at the outset are rudimentary and compliance is mandated to prevent the type of construction accident that robbed Mr. Tavares of so much of his life.”

Both Tavares and his counsel, Faegenburg are committed to lobbying for reform and greater protections for construction laborers, the law firm said in a statement. “Workplace safety is not optional, it is not a catch phrase, it is a basic right of all workers in the State of New York. The dangers inherent to construction work are great enough on their own so that any failure to safeguard a work site must not be tolerated. Threats to workers’ safety and welfare need to be acted upon so tragedies like the one that befell Mr. Tavares don’t ever happen again.”

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