New Safety Training Requirements Signed Into Law In NY

New Safety Training Requirements Signed Into Law In NY

Construction safety is a high priority for Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C. (SPBMC), as we have had years of success recovering millions of dollars for workers injured or killed on-site. Thankfully, this has also been a hot topic among New York’s public officials and lawmakers, who have enacted a new law to help mitigate the risks of such tragedies.

In October 2017, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation to promote better construction site safety. The bill, Intro. 1447-C, increases safety training requirements for construction workers. One of its most critical features is the requirement of a 40-hour safety class with the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“New York City is built on the ideals that every single person deserves…a City whose hard-working construction workers will get the safety training they need,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio at the signing at City Hall. “For the hard-hats in one of our city’s most dangerous jobs, this bill will help get them home to their families at night and keep the general public safe around construction sites.”

A fine of $25,000 could be charged to construction sites that don’t adhere to OSHA’s safety regulations for not having trained workers. According to the New York Post:

The final bill instead requires the safety training [of an apprenticeship], though it does waive the requirement for workers who have had an apprenticeship the city deems as extensive as the training.

This training would average less than one hour per week over the course of a year. SPBMC believes that is a reasonable amount of time for any employee to take – and for every employer to allow – to ensure the safety of construction workers. The bill also aims to accommodate the needs and language barriers of immigrants, day laborers, and workers who speak languages other than English. The city’s developing skyline is evident of the construction industry’s growth and resilience, which is why this training can only be beneficial to employers, employees and their loved ones.

SPBMC proudly represents construction workers and other hardworking professionals committed to ensuring their safety through education and those who have sustained on-site injuries or fatalities. If you need to speak with one of our experienced New York accident lawyers, we are pleased to offer a free consultation.

Transportation Safety Tips For Construction Workers

Construction workers encounter safety risks in all phases of their jobs, whether their feet are on the ground or behind the wheel. Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C. (SPBMC) has represented workers who have been injured or killed while driving to, from and for work.

The statistics for transportation-related occupational injuries and fatalities are staggering. According to Building Safer Highway Work Zones: Measures to Prevent Worker Injuries from Vehicles and Equipment, each year more than 100 workers are killed and more than 20,000 are injured in the highway and street construction industry. Vehicles and equipment operating in and around work zones are involved in more than half of the construction worker fatalities.

 Distracted Driving

Driver inattention is a leading risk factor of most crashes, according to a report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event.

Employers should take the lead in mitigating the risk of distracted driving. The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety promotes several Drive Safely Work Week (DSWW) initiatives for fleets that can save lives and prevent injuries. They can also be observed during all times of the year. One example of its campaign is the DSWW Distracted Driving Module, which includes meaningful activities that reinforce the program’s safe-driving messages, yet won’t take significant time away from the workday.

Using hands-free phones and refraining from eating or drinking during a commute can reduce the risk of an on-the-road accident.

Pressure and Poor Decision-Making

There are times, unfortunately, when safety is sacrificed in the name of “getting things done” or because of a supervisor’s orders. In those situations, the consequences can be deadly.

Leaders In The Law recently reported on a Florida wrongful death case in which a driver made an illegal U-Turn on I-75. It was revealed during the trial that the driver, a third-party worker, was unfamiliar with the area but was told to proceed anyway to reach an unloading site one mile away. The turn was made at night, with little to no visibility or illumination and a collision quickly occurred. Ultimately, the jury found construction worker’s poor decision to operate the truck negligently caused the death of at least two people and injured others. The family of one of the victims sued the construction company and the driver and was awarded $45 million.

Site managers and supervisors should not pressure any worker – an employee or third-party laborer – to act in a manner that would put themselves or others in harm’s way. Though it can be intimidating, employees should speak up in those situations to avoid the risk of roadway accidents.

Seat Belts Save Lives

Most of the occupational fatalities occur on public highways where there are seat belt requirements and traffic laws between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. The most important driver safety policy that employers can implement and enforce is still the mandatory use of seat belts. NHTSA estimated that in 2000, the use of seat belts prevented 11,889 fatalities in the United States and could have prevented 9,238 fatalities that did occur.

SPBMC is committed to helping construction workers and other hardworking professionals who have sustained transportation-related injuries or fatalities. If you need to speak with one of our experienced New York accident lawyers, we are pleased to offer a free consultation.

$26 Million Verdict – Childbirth Injuries Caused By Hospital’s Negligence

Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C. (SPBMC) won a $26 million medical negligence verdict last week on behalf of its client for past and future pain and suffering.

The plaintiff was a 7-and-a-half-year-old girl who was born deaf, along with other health problems. She was one of two twin girls born in 2010. Symptoms of pre-term labor started when her mother was 21 weeks pregnant. Pre-term birth is the biggest cause of injury and death related to childbirth – more than all other risk factors combined. On Feb. 9, 2010, the plaintiff’s mother twice visited the Labor and Delivery Triage Unit at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, New York due to painful cramping and a brownish discharge that was turning pink, which suggested bleeding. During both visits, she was seen only by a resident – not an attending doctor – and was discharged. The doctors missed the opportunity to prolong the pregnancy by ordering bed rest or prescribing hormones like tocolytics, which can suppress premature labor.

The mother delivered later in February when the twins were still very premature. The plaintiff’s sister unfortunately passed one month after her birth. The plaintiff survived, but suffered a host of problems; the most prominent issues were her deafness and vocal cord paralysis. To this day, hearing aids are minimally helpful and she can only communicate through sign language.

The month-long trial was held in Kings County Supreme Court. The plaintiff was represented by Jim Wilkens, Of Counsel to SPBMC’s medical malpractice group. He argued that the mother’s condition was a possible precursor to cervical shortening and that she should have been admitted to monitor her cervical length. If this had been done at the first sign of cervical change, bed rest and tocolytics would have been more useful, and could have mitigated the risks of the delivery. The defending obstetricians conceded that those steps would have been effective treatments before the mother’s cervix became too short.

The jury deliberated for eight hours and returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, awarding more than $26 million for the child’s past and future pain and suffering. The jury also awarded $500,000 for the wrongful death of her twin sister, who died 28 days after birth.

$8.3 Million Settlement – Child Born with Cerebral Palsy

SPBMC Secures $8.3 Million Settlement for Child Born with Cerebral Palsy


The birth of a child should be a joyous event. However, there are times when doctors’ misconduct during childbirth can have grave results. Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo, PC (SPBMC) represented a woman whose labor experience was not joyous, but tragic.

When our client, Barbara, was rushed to the hospital to deliver her daughter, hospital doctors and staff failed to evaluate and respond to suspicious warning signs. Several worrisome indications demanded immediate attention. When they attached monitors to measure the unborn child’s heartbeat, the doctors discovered that the heartbeat was weakening. That was an indication that the baby was not getting enough oxygen to her brain. Insufficient oxygen causes brain cells to die, which can result in permanent brain damage. In addition, some of the fluid coming from the mother was green and a green vaginal discharge can be an unhealthy and concerning signpost.

When the hospital staff examined Barbara’s progress, it was clear that a natural delivery would be many hours away. The baby was medically in a hostile uterine environment. Barbara needed an emergency caesarean section (C-section) within an hour of her arrival to the hospital. There was no time to lose. The baby had to be quickly delivered in order to remove her from danger and to ensure that the baby’s brain would get enough oxygen.

Hours passed. Mother and baby’s conditions worsened while the staff inexplicably waited for a natural delivery. The C-section was finally performed, but too late to prevent brain damage. Baby Cynthia was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. She has grown up suffering from seizures and exhibits below-average language and motor skills.

Barbara came to us to secure fair compensation for her daughter’s unfortunate situation. Our expert physicians carefully examined the hospital record and determined that:

  1. The request for an immediate C-section should have been acted upon and was medically appropriate.
  2. The hospital doctors negligently delayed performance of the Ceasarean Section for ten hours and during that time Baby Cynthia was severely damaged.
  3. Based on the fetal heart monitoring record, Baby Cynthia was not getting enough oxygen and was in severe distress during the 10-hour wait for the C-section, and
  4. The hospital staff was negligent in not immediately responding to the baby’s danger signs.

After we initiated a lawsuit, settlement negotiations commenced. The case was settled before trial for $8.3 Million. Much of that settlement was placed in a financially guaranteed payment plan which ensured the family that the cost of Cynthia’s medical care and protection will be provided for the rest of her life.

For many patients, timely and proper treatment during labor may mean the difference between the delivery of a healthy baby and one who will require lifelong medical assistance. If you think a long-term condition could have been prevented if not for a failure to act or diagnose, contact us immediately.


Substantial Settlement for Severely Injured Pedestrian

$3.25 Million Settlement – Motor Vehicle Accident

Substantial Settlement for Severely Injured Pedestrian

Walking on a sidewalk does not guarantee pedestrian safety from negligent drivers. Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo, PC (SPBMC) represented a client who, while on a sidewalk, suffered life-altering injuries when two drivers operated their vehicles dangerously.

Sonia, a wife and mother-of-two, was carefully walking to her nearby employer one morning in New York. Like most pedestrians, she assumed she was safe from any vehicular hazards. Unfortunately, individuals get injured off the road every day, and Sonia became one of those victims. A truck and a taxi were driving abreast of each other on an adjoining street and both attempted to make a right turn at the intersection. The taxi was in the lane closest to the sidewalk; it lost control, mounted the sidewalk and pinned Sonia against the wall of a building.

Both of her legs were broken and she was rushed to the hospital. Sonia’s leg fractures required surgical intervention and she was hospitalized for a month. She needed extensive physical therapy and was bedridden for an extended period.

Sonia and her family came to us for justice. We accepted the case and immediately initiated an investigation to hold the appropriate parties accountable and to obtain the maximum financial recovery for Sonia, who would endure a lifetime of unforeseen medical, rehabilitative and psychological expenses.

There was no question that the taxicab had driven onto the sidewalk and struck Sonia. But the cab’s insurance coverage was very limited and we believed that the real culprit was the truck driver whom we alleged negligently turned into the taxicab, forcing it onto the sidewalk. The truck’s insurance coverage was substantial and we knew it was essential that we secure evidence proving that the truck driver caused the accident. Though we could not procure surveillance footage of the accident, we still felt confident about our position and commenced a lawsuit against both truck and taxi operators and examined the respective drivers under oath.

During the pretrial phase, the truck driver swore that he was innocent of any misconduct, claiming that he had made the right-hand turn without ever coming into contact with the taxi. However, we confronted him with his statements to a police officer acknowledging that he acted improperly by making a turn from the left lane. The taxi driver also denied responsibility and stated that it was the truck turning right from the left-hand lane that hit him and pushed him onto the sidewalk.

Since testimonies were at a stalemate, we sought the services of a respected expert who specialized in scientific automobile accident reconstruction. His conclusion was that the accident was caused by the illegal right-hand turn of the truck, which caused the taxi to veer onto the sidewalk where Sonia was so severely injured. He was prepared to testify that the truck’s negligent turn caused the collision.

We proceeded to prepare for trial. However, based upon the important evidence and testimony we had obtained – which pointed to the real culprit in the accident – and because of the seriousness of Sonia’s injuries, pretrial negotiations resulted in a $3.25 Million settlement.

This severe accident serves as a warning to others to exercise caution when out on the roads in order to protect others from meeting a similar fate. In the last 10 years, SPBMC’s lawyers have recovered more than $2 Billion on behalf of plaintiffs and their families in wrongful death and serious injury claims. If you need to speak with one of our experienced New York or New Jersey accident lawyers, we are pleased to offer a free consultation.

Demolition’s Unique Safety Hazards

Demolition’s Unique Safety Hazards

Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo, PC (SPBMC) has successfully represented demolitionists and other construction professionals who have been injured or killed while on-the-job. Demolition work involves many of the hazards associated with construction, from falling objects and toxic exposure to electrocution and musculoskeletal injuries. However, structures slated for demolition are often old and unstable which is why extra preparations and cautious planning is needed.

Spot Hazardous Signs

An engineering survey must be conducted before any work begins. That survey should detail the obvious and latent dangers in the structure. Then, managers and supervisors can create a demolition plan and communicate it to the on-site workers. It should expose several factors, such as:

  • Changes from the structure’s design introduced during construction;
  • Approved or unapproved modifications that altered the original design;
  • Materials hidden within structural members, such as lead, asbestos, silica, and other chemicals or heavy metals requiring special material handling;
  • Unknown strengths or weaknesses of construction materials, such as post-tensioned concrete; and
  • Hazards created by the demolition methods used.


Preventing Falls and Other Injuries

Below are some OSHA-recommended tips to safeguard against falls and other common demolition injuries:

  • Brace or shore up the walls and floors of structures which have been damaged and which employees must enter.
  • Inspect personal protective equipment before use.
  • Inspect all stairs, passageways, and ladders; illuminate all stairways.
  • Contact appropriate utility companies and shut off or cap all electric, gas, water, steam, sewer, and other service lines.
  • Guard wall openings to a height of 42 inches; cover and secure floor openings with material able to withstand the loads likely to be imposed.
  • Floor openings used for material disposal must not be more than 25% of the total floor area.
  • All roof cornices or other ornamental stonework must be removed prior to pulling walls down.
  • Employees must not be permitted to work where structural collapse hazards exist until they are corrected by shoring, bracing, or other effective means.


One of the most recent examples of a tragic demolition accident occurred in Philadelphia in 2013. In that scenario an aging, long-vacant four-story building in the downtown area was being demolished when it collapsed onto the one-story Salvation Army Thrift Store next door. Six people were killed – four shoppers and two thrift store employees – and 14 people were injured. The collapse was traced back to removal of critical structural supports that left a wall unsupported. Such demolition accidents are preventable. The risk of a worker or bystander being injured during demolition or a removal phase can be substantially mitigated by taking proper cautionary steps.

SPBMC is committed to helping hardworking demolition and construction professionals who have suffered injuries or illnesses. If you need to speak with one of our experienced New York accident lawyers, we are pleased to offer a free consultation.

$1.1 Million Settlement – Bicycle Accident

Significant Settlement Secured For Bicyclist’s Family


Bicyclists can wind up in dangerous positions when motor vehicle drivers do not obey the rules of the road. Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C. (SPBMC) represented the family of a cyclist who was tragically struck and killed by a motor vehicle operated negligently by a state employee in East Islip, New York.

Jack was a retired music teacher and a healthy 63-year-old who enjoyed riding bike trails. One day while pedaling in a dedicated bike lane into an intersection in Heckscher State Park, the husband and father-of-two was struck by a New York State employee who had driven through a clearly visible stop sign. Jack was thrown 30 feet into the air and though he was wearing a helmet, the injuries caused by the impact unfortunately caused his death shortly after the incident.

His family came to us for justice and we accepted the case. We alleged that the driver failed to stop at the stop sign and also acted negligently by entering the intersection without slowing or yielding.

During the pre-trial phase, the defendant denied responsibility and claimed that our client solely caused the accident because he also rode through a stop sign at the intersection. An eyewitness to the accident testified during preliminary findings that neither Jack nor the defendant-driver stopped at the stop sign. However, our investigation revealed that although the defendant-driver and the State deflected responsibility, motor vehicle charges had been brought against the driver for his actions and he had in fact acknowledged his reckless driving.

After conducting our investigation, we filed a lawsuit against the State. In the course of the suit, we examined under oath an eyewitness, several police officers and State employees.

The State took the position that the plaintiffs suffered minimal damages and attempted to support this argument by discussing Jack’s retirement status – that he had no substantial income. They also claimed that the medical records showed that Jack incurred no conscious pain and suffering before his death. We showed that the facts provided by the eyewitness proved that Jack had endured great terror before he was hit. The witness said Jack swerved before the impact – indicating that he realized he was about to be hit by a speeding motor vehicle, tried to take evasive action, and therefore suffered compensable, pre-impact terror.

As the trial was about to commence, the defendant and the State of New York acknowledged their responsibility and paid Jack’s family $1.1 Million to settle this serious claim.

SPBMC’s lawyers have recovered more than $2 Billion on behalf of plaintiffs and their families in wrongful death and various injury claims since 2000. If you need to speak with one of our experienced New York or New Jersey accident lawyers, we are pleased to offer a free consultation.

Substantial Settlement For Failure to Diagnose Tongue Cancer

Patients suffer when medical doctors and dentists do not quickly act upon indicators of illnesses during routine check-ups. Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo PC (SPBMC) represented a woman whose neglectful doctors made life unbearable in her final days.

Mary was a wife and mother in her 60s when, during a dental visit, a suspicious white spot was found on her tongue. She was referred to an oral surgeon who performed a biopsy and recommended, in his words, “careful, long-term, follow-up care.” He also told Mary that the spot would eventually need to be removed, but no urgency was required. This lackadaisical care and unprofessional attitude started a tumultuous sequence of events.

One year after the spot was discovered, another biopsy was performed which our expert later testified required removal at that point in time. However, that surgeon maintained the procedure was not critical and took no further action, until he ordered yet a third biopsy three months later. Incredibly and shamefully, those samples were taken from the wrong area of the tongue.

Disheartened, Mary returned to her first doctor. During the visit he used a laser to remove the spot but negligently never sent a specimen to pathology — proving he never confirmed what he removed or whether he caught all the dangerous tissue. While under the continued care of this doctor, Mary’s tongue became enlarged. She was living with constant pain that affected her ability to eat and swallow, and her tongue eventually became immobile. She finally visited a new physician who accurately evaluated her condition and explained that she had cancer that originated in her tongue. Had the prior doctors properly diagnosed her and removed the lesions, her survival chances would have been much more favorable.

As a result of the delay and continuous negligent treatment, Mary suffered catastrophic consequences: she had to have her tongue and larynx removed; she had to breathe through a tube; and was unable to speak, or eat or drink normally. This was how she lived in the days leading up to her tragic passing at age 67.

Mary’s family came to SPBMC for justice. We reviewed all the medical records and brought an action against several of the dentists and surgeons who were responsible for Mary’s poor treatment.

The trial commenced and testimony was taken. Since Mary had passed away by this time, the action was not only for her pain and suffering, but also for her wrongful death and the resultant loss to her grieving family. Our cancer experts explained that the negligent and careless delay of the diagnosis of Mary’s tongue cancer caused it to spread throughout her body. Before the case was submitted to the jury, the defendants agreed to settle and paid nearly $2.4 million to Mary’s family.

For many patients, the timely and proper treatment of any illness may mean the difference between life and death. If you think a serious condition could have been prevented or eliminated if not for a failure to diagnose a disease or injury, contact us immediately.

$183 Million Verdict – Black Sunday Fire

Jury Awards Black Sunday Firefighters $183M in Damages


New York, NY, February 22, 2016 – Today a Bronx jury found both the City of New York and the landlord responsible for the tragedy that occurred on January 23, 2005, a day that will forever be known as “Black Sunday” in the FDNY. The jury awarded damages to five firefighters and their families totaling $183 million, and assigning liability of 80% to the City and 20% to the landlord.

On Black Sunday, Brooklyn firefighter Richard Sclafani died when overcome by smoke at a private house fire. On that same day, five firefighters and a Lieutenant became trapped in a Bronx apartment that was consumed by flames and were forced to jump five stories from a top-floor window to avoid being burned to death. Lt. Curtis Meyran and Firefighter John Bellew were killed by the impact with the ground. Firefighter Joseph DiBernardo, whose heels and feet were crushed by the impact, died six years later from the physical and psychological toll of his injuries, which required heavy doses of daily medication. Firefighters Gene Stolowski, Jeff Cool and Brendan Cawley survived the tragedy, but continue to suffer from life-changing and permanent injuries. The five firefighters and their families were represented by trial attorney Vito Cannavo of Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C. The family of Lt. Curtis Meyran settled its case before the verdict.

The families of the deceased firefighters and the surviving firefighters brought lawsuits against the owner of the building for allowing the construction of illegal partition walls in the apartment, which blocked access to the fire escape. They also sued the City of New York for failing to provide firefighters with personal safety ropes, which would have enabled the men to safely self-evacuate from the burning building. Five years earlier, the City had removed the personal safety ropes from FDNY gear and never replaced them.

Lead partner Vito Cannavo stated: “There are two important issues in this case. First, it demonstrates that a governmental entity is not immune from liability when it fails to provide its firefighters, who put their lives on the line every day to protect our citizens, with proper safety equipment to fulfill their duties. Second, this case reaffirms clearly that landlords are to be held accountable for turning a blind eye to unsafe conditions that exist in their buildings.”

Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C., which serves as General Counsel to the UFA, is recognized as one of New York’s premiere personal injury law firms and, for over 40 years, has been actively engaged in helping injured New York City firefighters and the families of firefighters who have given their lives in the performance of their duties.

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Robin Shanzer
Office: 212-472-9771
Cell: 646-209-1023

$15 Million Settlement – Motor Vehicle Accident

Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C. Reaches Settlement With the State of New Jersey for $15 Million

Our client, a 29-year-old woman who was severely injured in a collision on the Pulaski Skyway in Jersey City, N.J., received a $15 million settlement from the State of New Jersey and two drivers involved in the accident.

At the time of the collision, our client was a passenger in the backseat of an automobile traveling west toward Newark Liberty International Airport. A tow truck, owned by the State and being used for the highway safety patrol, attempted a u-turn to go down a left-side off ramp. The car in which our client was a passenger broadsided the tow truck and was then immediately rear-ended by another car.

The tow truck operator claimed he had his flashers on for a half mile before turning left and only saw vehicles a half-mile behind him when he looked back. He further testified that the second impact, from the plaintiff’s rear, was far more severe than the initial impact with his tow truck, and caused most of our client’s injuries. The other drivers, however, both testified that the tow truck operator made the illegal u-turn without any warning.

Our client sustained a traumatic brain injury, triplegia (paralysis of three limbs), a fractured humerus, diminished vision, cognitive deficits and other injuries. She was hospitalized for about six months and underwent seven surgical procedures and also developed numerous complications.

We retained 11 experts in various fields to present her case.

The two private defendants had a total of only $40,000 in liability insurance coverage. While there was negligence on the part of all three defendants, any fault attributed to the other two drivers would not be compensated, given their limited cumulative coverage, because New Jersey law limits a public entity’s obligation to pay damages to its percentage of fault. Our strategy was to focus the jury’s attention on the first negligent act by any party – the illegal U-turn made by the State’s tow truck – and argue that but for that negligence, neither collision would have occurred.

The parties submitted their case to mediation, and, after seven hours of negotiations, the case settled with the State of New Jersey agreeing to pay $15 million and the two operators paying the full amount of their insurance coverage of $40 thousand.