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Court of Claims workplace injury trial scheduled

Worker who fell in hole seeking $2 million

The damages phase of a job-site injury lawsuit is scheduled to get underway July 31 before New York State Court of Claims Judge Renee Forgensi Minarik.

Minarik already has decided that each side in the case is equally liable.

“I find that the fault for this accident is evenly split 50 percent due to claimant’s negligence and 50 percent due to defendant’s violation of Labor Law,” Minarik wrote in a June 2016 decision.

The trial is expected to take about four days.

The plaintiff, Wendy Kreiley, was injured on June 27, 2011, while working on a construction project for the state as an employee of C.P. Ward Inc. Kreiley was helping to rig a large caisson to be loaded onto a truck when she fell into a hole that had been drilled as part of the work to erect a sign.

Kreiley, who originally sought $2 million in the suit, fell about 18 feet and suffered severe permanent injuries to her right leg and ankle and a compression fracture of her back.

Minarik dismissed separate causes of action, leaving only a claim under Section 241 (6) of the state Labor Law, which requires safety measures on worksites.

The liability portion of the case was held on Aug. 25, 27 and 28 in 2015. Minarik granted the state’s motion to dismiss some claims, leaving only the question of whether there were appropriate protections from falling hazards.

The injury happened when Kreiley was working on I-590 near the intersection with I-390 in Rochester as a member of a crew replacing signs.

The work involved drilling a hole, inserting a large metal tube caisson to prevent the hole from caving in, preparing the hole with rebar and a tubular form, removing the caisson and pouring concrete into the hole to hold the sign base.

In addition to Kreiley, the crew included foreman Ted Gilbert and laborer Seth Caster.

They were unable to get a caisson into a hole, so Gilbert decided to proceed without it. Caster told the crane operator, Carl Kane, to put the caisson back on a trailer.

The 20-foot-long caisson was placed on the ground next to the hole. Kreiley attached a clamp to one end for the crane to lift it onto the truck. When she walked toward the other end to help Caster attach another clamp, she fell into the hole.

Kreiley is represented by John Maxwell, of Maxwell Murphy LLC in Buffalo. The state is represented by John Wallace, of Buffalo. The attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-363-7269 or email madams@bridgetowermedia.com.


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