From time to time, other law firms call on Justin Blitz, Esq. to handle trials for them. Justin has gained a reputation among his colleagues as a prolific trial attorney, and when other law firms, for one reason or another, are unable to try a case themselves, Justin has become their go-to trial counsel. This happened recently when Justin was asked by a prominent construction injury law firm, the Law Firm of Sacks and Sacks, to handle a complicated trial for them in Westchester County Supreme Court .
The client, a 29-year-old construction worker, was working at a jobsite in Rye, New York when he was stuck by an enormous piece of construction machinery known as a wheel loader.
As a result of being stuck by this 30,000 pound machine, our client fell 9 feet and landed on a concrete floor. Rye New York firefighters and the Port Chester-Rye-Rye Brook EMS worked together to remove Joe from the construction shaft who was then airlifted to Westchester County Medical Center.
His injuries were devastating, and resulted in 17 surgeries and many years confined to an in-patient rehabilitation facility.
The case was a complicated one, consisting of products liability claims against the manufacturer for the defective design and manufacturing of the wheel loader, as well as a “failure to warn” claim against H.O. Penn, the certified reseller of the wheel loader who had sold it to the plaintiff’s employer. In addition, claims for violations of New York’s Labor Law were brought against the owner of the property where the accident occurred and the general contractor on the job site. Our client’s employer was brought into the action as a third-party defendant, and litigation ensued over the course of many years.
When the case was ready for trial, Justin was asked by the attorneys of record for the plaintiff to come on board as lead trial counsel. Justin accepted the offer and got right to work. He had very little time to familiarize himself with the facts of the case, and read through thousands of pages of deposition transcripts, medical records, machine specs, and other documents. As a result of his meticulous preparation, Justin uncovered a “smoking gun” document which had previously been overlooked. Once Justin discovered this document, he developed a new theory of liability against the wheel loader manufacturer.
Justin then spent many days preparing our client and multiple expert witnesses for trial. He traveled to the Midwest, where our experts were located, and spend several days with them going through various design aspects of the wheel loader in excruciating detail.
Shortly before the trial was scheduled, the defendants’ attorneys served dozens of pre-trial motions (called “motions in limine”), seeking to exclude various evidence from the trial. Justin and his team fought each and every motion and received favorable rulings from the judge. Jury selection lasted three days, and the trial began in early May 2022.
Justin’s opening statement provided the jury with a roadmap of how he was going to prove that the defendants were negligent, and as a result of their negligence, our client was horribly injured. Following opening statements, Justin called various witnesses, including the plaintiff and our expert witnesses. In addition, Justin introduced dozens of documents into evidence, and used the documents and the trial testimony masterfully to show the jury why the defendants were negligent.
After Justin rested his case, the attorneys for the wheel loader manufacturer called their head engineer. Following the engineer’s direct testimony, Justin began his withering cross-examination, meticulously picking apart and deconstructing the defense’s arguments.
During a break in the testimony, the judge called the attorneys for all parties into his chambers to discuss the possibility of settlement. Sensing that things were quickly going south for them, the attorneys and insurance representatives for the defendants finally relented and were willing to engage in meaningful settlement discussions, something they had been avoiding doing for many years.
After several hours of intense settlement negotiations, Justin and his team were able to procure a settlement for all defendants in the amount of $8.5 million. These funds will fairly compensate our client for the consequences of the horrific injuries he will suffer for the rest of his life due to the defendant’s negligence.