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Who pays damages in a workplace accident? Liriano v. Hobart Corp., 92 A.D.3d 33 (N.Y. App. Div. 2012)


Workplace injuries are a serious concern for employees and employers alike. Injuries sustained on the job can be debilitating and may result in lost wages, medical bills, and ongoing pain and suffering. In New York, injured workers have legal rights and may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.

In Liriano v. Hobart Corp., the plaintiff, Carlos Liriano, was injured while operating a commercial dough mixer. Liriano sued the manufacturer of the mixer, Hobart Corp., for damages related to his injuries.

In 2004, Liriano was working as a bakery assistant at a grocery store in the Bronx. As part of his job duties, he was responsible for operating a commercial dough mixer manufactured by Hobart Corp. While cleaning the mixer, Liriano’s hand was caught in the machine and crushed, resulting in the amputation of several fingers.

Liriano sued Hobart Corp. for damages related to his injuries, alleging that the mixer was defectively designed and manufactured, and that the company failed to provide adequate warnings and instructions for the safe operation of the machine.

Discussion and Decision
The central issue in the case was whether the defendant, Hobart Corp., was liable for Liriano’s injuries under New York’s Labor Law Section 240(1), which imposes a non-delegable duty on contractors and property owners to provide safety devices to protect workers from gravity-related accidents.

The court in Liriano held that Hobart Corp. was liable for Liriano’s injuries under Labor Law Section 240(1). The court reasoned that Liriano was engaged in a covered activity at the time of the accident, and that Hobart Corp. failed to provide the proper safety devices required by the statute. Specifically, the court found that the meat grinder that Liriano was using was defective because it lacked an appropriate safety guard or other device to prevent him from coming into contact with the machine’s moving parts.

Under Labor Law Section 240(1), contractors and property owners who fail to provide safety devices that could have prevented gravity-related accidents are strictly liable for injuries suffered by workers. The law was enacted in response to the high number of construction-related accidents involving falls from heights, such as scaffolding and ladders. Over time, however, the law has been extended to cover other types of gravity-related accidents, including those involving falling objects, such as in the Liriano case.

The defendant, Hobart Corp., argued that Liriano was partially at fault for his own injuries because he had failed to properly secure the meat grinder to the table on which it was mounted. The court rejected this argument, holding that the evidence did not support a finding of comparative negligence on the part of Liriano.

Under New York’s comparative negligence rule, a plaintiff’s recovery in a personal injury lawsuit is reduced in proportion to his or her degree of fault for the accident. If the plaintiff is found to be more than 50% at fault, however, the would be barred from recovering any damages at all. In the Liriano case, the court found that Hobart Corp. was 100% liable for Liriano’s injuries, and that he was not at fault in any way.

The plaintiff was awarded a total of $15 million in damages, including $12 million for pain and suffering and $3 million for future medical expenses. The defendant, Hobart Corp., appealed the verdict, arguing that it was excessive and unsupported by the evidence. The Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court upheld the verdict, however, finding that the damages were reasonable given the severity of Liriano’s injuries and the impact they had on his life.

As demonstrated in Liriano v. Hobart Corp., there are cases where injured workers have the right to seek compensation for their losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering and do not have to settle for only workers’ compensation benefits. The plaintiff argued that his injuries were caused by a defective meat-grinding machine, which was manufactured by a third-party company, and that his employer was negligent in failing to provide a safe workplace. As a result, the plaintiff was able to bring a lawsuit against both the manufacturer of the machine and his employer, seeking damages for his injuries.

The case also highlights the importance of working with experienced New York personal injury lawyers who have the knowledge and resources to thoroughly investigate workplace accidents and establish liability. By holding negligent employers accountable for their actions, injured workers can not only recover the compensation they need to move forward but also send a message that workplace safety is a top priority that cannot be ignored.




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