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ARTICLE ID 201277

$________ - FAILURE TO PROVIDE SAFETY GOGGLES TO PLAINTIFF FOREMAN USING NAIL GUN AT CONSTRUCTION SITE - FOREIGN OBJECT RICOCHETS AND PENETRATES EYE - CORNEAL LACERATION REQUIRING SURGERY - VISION LOSS IN ONE EYE - PLAINTIFF HAS RETURNED TO FULL DUTY - NO INCOME CLAIMS MADE.

Essex County, NJ

In this construction liability action, the male plaintiff in his late 30s, a foreman of a framing crew working on a large private home project, contended that the defendant general contractor negligently failed to ensure that the employees of the subcontractors at the site were provided with safety goggles while they were working with nail guns, as required under OSHA regulations. The plaintiff asserted that as a result, he was struck in the eye by a foreign object as he was using a nail gun while framing around piping. The defendant contended that the plaintiff was an experienced carpenter who had worked in the construction industry for some 12 years and was a foreman of the framing crew on this job, and, therefore, was comparatively negligent in failing to obtain his own goggles. The plaintiff countered that the relevant OSHA regulations clearly state that all workers be supplied with safety goggles when working with nail guns and that the failure of the defendant G.C., which had full control of the work site, to ensure that this regulation was complied with cannot be condoned by simply arguing that it was the plaintiff’s responsibility to obtain his own safety goggles.

The evidence revealed that the construction of the house was ongoing over an extended period of time, and the plaintiff, who was employed by a non-party framing sub-contractor, asserted that the defendant G.C. had made observations on a significant number of days that the workers were not using safety goggles while operating nail guns. The plaintiff maintained that on several occasions, the defendant G.C. had made comments that the workers ought to be using safety goggles, but never insisted that safety goggles be worn by the workers at all times while engaged in framing with nail guns. The plaintiff argued, therefrom, that it was clear that the defendant had failed to take additional action to ensure that the sub-contractors complied with OSHA regulations, arguing that the defendant G.C. was more concerned with schedules and profits than worker safety.

The plaintiff’s evidence revealed that he suffered a laceration to his cornea when the foreign object penetrated his eye. He was taken to the hospital where repair surgery was attempted. The plaintiff’s treating ophthalmologist opined that the plaintiff has been left industrially blind in the one eye as a result of the injury and indicated that a corneal transplant could be performed in an attempt to correct it. However, this witness testified that such surgery carries significant risks and could end up with the plaintiff being left completely blind in the affected eye. The plaintiff has expressed no intention of undergoing this surgery. The defendant maintained that the vision in the affected eye could be corrected with glasses to 20/40 without surgery.

The plaintiff, who has returned to work for the same employer and is performing the same work, made no lost income claims.The jury found the defendant ________% negligent and awarded $________.

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