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Transit worker Nunez nets $13M for fall thru station platform

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Transit worker Nunez nets $13M for fall thru station platform

by Nicole Bode

Daily News Staff Writer

 

Monday, June 15th 2009, 4:00 AM

 

George Nunez, a 51-year-old Brooklyn father of three, was part of a crew assigned to replace the old wooden slats on the J train in Bushwick.

 

Horrified co-workers standing feet away from Nunez as he stood above Rodney St. and Broadway watched helplessly as the plank he was standing on gave way on Aug. 13, 2006.

 

No one had told him the metal bolts that had secured the walkway he was on had been cut, according to court testimony.

 

He landed facedown on a metal sewer grate.

 

"I fell. I hit the ground and woke up two months after," Nunez testified during the Brooklyn Supreme Court trial.

 

Nunez, who has lingering brain damage and metal plates bolted inside both arms, was wearing a safety helmet that partially shielded his skull.

 

But his face and pelvis were shattered, and his wrists had to be fused, making it nearly impossible for him to move his wrists and fingers, according to his lawyer, Lawrence Biondi.

 

NYC Transit lawyers tried to blame the accident on Nunez, claiming his safety harness wasn't hooked up to the central line, court records show. An NYC Transit spokesman said the agency will appeal the verdict.

 

A judge dismissed those claims, citing sworn testimony from Nunez's supervisors, who said Nunez was never told he needed to attach his harness because no one warned him or his crew that someone had cut the bolts.

 

After a three-week trial, a jury decided in favor of Nunez and his wife, Evette Nunez, who was also named in the lawsuit.

 

"They tried to blame him for the accident. There was just absolutely no proof of that at all," Biondi said.

 

"They're more concerned with trying to absolve themselves of these kinds of accidents than putting safeguards in place to prevent them from happening."

 

Evette Nunez thanked the jury for "reaching a just result despite the Transit Authority's personal attack and attempts to minimize the nature and extent of my husband's injury.

 

"We could not have survived without the support and prayers of our family and friends and especially George's fellow brothers from the Transit Authority."

 

nbode@nydailynews.com

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Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 2_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/525.18.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.1.1 Mobile/5H11 Safari/525.20)

 

Another nail in the (MTA) coffin.

 

- A

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Thats always the case any time a Transit worker claims injury they get the supervisor to try to write the employee up claiming they didn't follow work rules as the reason for thier own injury.

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well at least he got something to take care of his family. sucks cuz no amount of money will ever make you "whole" again despite what SOME lawyers think...

 

these are the people who should get awards from courts not passengers being where they had no business being because this guy was just doing his job and his whole life changed in an instant and wont ever be the same again.

 

sucks that they'd try to blame him for it. at least the supervisor stood up for him and said that there was no way he shouldve been expected to wear a safety harness which probably figured in the verdict.

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I hope he gets all $13 million, he deserves it unlike the drunk who fell on the tracks and got hit.

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I also hope he get's his money that could of happen to anybody at anytime and it wasn't like he jumped down he fell down so give him his money he has already went threw enough ya know.If not for his brothers and friends this turnout might of been different .

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I was there that day. It was a miracle that he survived that fall. IMO it is because of his stocky build. Think about falling through the structure on the M/J line to the street below.

 

He deserves the money. His foremen were busy working instead of watching what was going on which is what they are supposed to do.

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Its not his fault, but its not the (MTA)'s (as a whole) either.

 

It is the fault of the supervisor himeself who did not tell him the bolts were cut. The supervisor should pay $13M, not the (MTA).

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Its not his fault, but its not the (MTA)'s (as a whole) either.

 

It is the fault of the supervisor himeself who did not tell him the bolts were cut. The supervisor should pay $13M, not the (MTA).

 

The supervisor won't have $13M so if that's the case, he isn't going to get anything. There's a reason in these lawsuits you have to go after the agency/company/corporation/city/state - because that's where the money is.

 

The supervisor may not even make $13M in his life, and after what happened to this guy the last thing he needs is to be getting a slow trickle of small payments from a now bankrupt supervisor when he should have enough to make up for lost work and the injuries he sustained which will never allow him to live a truly normal life again.

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The supervisor won't have $13M so if that's the case, he isn't going to get anything. There's a reason in these lawsuits you have to go after the agency/company/corporation/city/state - because that's where the money is.

 

The supervisor may not even make $13M in his life, and after what happened to this guy the last thing he needs is to be getting a slow trickle of small payments from a now bankrupt supervisor when he should have enough to make up for lost work and the injuries he sustained which will never allow him to live a truly normal life again.

 

Point taken, but that supervisor should get some kind of punishment, he shouldn't get out of jail free.

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Poor guy is going to be disfigured and scarred for life because of another employees gross negligence.. Gee I think Ill cut these bolts off and forget to tell anyone what I just did.

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I was there that day. It was a miracle that he survived that fall. IMO it is because of his stocky build. Think about falling through the structure on the M/J line to the street below.

 

I think of falling through Gun Hill Rd, or derailing there, along with 167st on the 4 line.......

 

The supervisor won't have $13M so if that's the case, he isn't going to get anything. There's a reason in these lawsuits you have to go after the agency/company/corporation/city/state - because that's where the money is.

 

Deep pockets theory.....

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So is this an OSHA issue? Why aren't they told to harness themselves automatically?

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So is this an OSHA issue? Why aren't they told to harness themselves automatically?

 

Because the rules are written so as to be helpful but not restrictive. I remember when I painted houses rules required us to set up fall protection for anyone working on a surface 6 feet or more above ground that was not enclosed by a guard railing or fence, even if that surface was flat. The irony of course was that if it was a roof, the only way to set up fall protection was to send someone unprotected up to the peak to secure the harness mechanism firmly under a shingle.

 

Presumably in this case, since he was working on a platform which was an enclosed flat surface above the street, there was no way he could have been expecting it to cave in and therefore wasn't required by rule to wear a harness based on his understanding of the circumstances. No one told him otherwise, and when he fell, that's not on him since he didn't know, it's on the people who made the change to the structure and did not alert him to the safety hazard so that he'd set up fall protection. That's why he won, and rightly so.

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Presumably in this case, since he was working on a platform which was an enclosed flat surface above the street, there was no way he could have been expecting it to cave in and therefore wasn't required by rule to wear a harness based on his understanding of the circumstances.

 

He wasn't working on a platform he was working on the structure between stations it was a panel replacement job.

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