On March 23, 2016, Hon. Donald Kurtz in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Kings, approved a $35 million settlement in the case, Sarata v. Metro. Transp. Auth., Index No. 15708-2012—marking the single-largest personal injury action victory ever publicized in New York State.
In Sarata, the plaintiffs, Maciej and Magdalena Sarata, alleged that Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City Transit Authority (also known as MTA New York City Transit) (together, “MTA”), the City of New York and Judlau Contracting, Inc. violated Labor Law § 240(1)—“the duty to provide safety devices necessary to protect workers from risks inherent in elevated work sites.”
According to court records, on the day of the incident, Maciej Sarata was working as a construction laborer on a project that involved the rehabilitation of a subway line that stood approximately 90 feet high. While Maciej Sarata was at ground level, other employees of Fox Industries, Ltd. (Fox), a sub-contractor for the MTA defendants, used hand-held jackhammers or chipping guns to remove a concrete encasement surrounding the structural beams of the elevated tracks. The worksite included a ‘controlled access zone’ comprised of netting secured by plywood barricade positioned below the employees working on the tracks to catch any concrete pieces extricated during the removal. Nevertheless, at one point, a four-foot chunk of dislodged concrete hit a crossbeam, flew through the netting in the controlled access zone and struck Maciej Sarata in the head. He was rendered unconscious and transported to a hospital. As a consequence of the accident, Maciej Sarata sustained a skull fracture and required treatment for head, brain and spinal cord injuries.
Thereafter, Maciej Sarata filed suit to recover damages for his injuries, and his wife, Magdalena Sarata, filed a derivative cause of action for loss of spousal services, which ultimately lead to the monumental resolution of their claims.