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Posted in Blog on March 30, 2018   |  by Gary Burger

How Burger Law Can Help When the Sky Falls

A cement block falling through the ceiling and a resulting concussion are probably the last things a person thinks about before attending an accounting conference. Unfortunately for Niko, an accountant from New York, the excitement of an innovative accounting industry conference had to be placed on the backburner.

The strangest thing happened as Niko sat in one of the conference lectures at the Sheraton Hotel in Clayton, a cement block dropped from the ceiling and struck him on the head. The pictures below show the aftermath of the incident.

At the emergency room, doctors determined the head trauma resulted in a concussion. Worsening symptoms of the concussion prompted Niko to return to the emergency room for further treatment. After returning home, Niko entered the New York Workers’ Compensation system. Navigating the landscape of such a system can be difficult as it is very complex.

Multiple physicians provided care to Niko for head and neck problems that resulted from the incident. However, the doctors determined that the care they could provide was limited. Consequently, Niko did not receive much treatment.

Niko returned to work for a few months but had to take time to fully recuperate from his concussion. As time passed, Niko was able to go back to work and later was even able to accept a better opportunity. His self-starting, hardworking and genuine attitude makes Niko the type of client personal injury lawyers want to represent.

The continuing investigation uncovered that Goldman Sachs operated a trust that owned the hotel, making the hotel management company the incorrect defendant. We then had to sue the trust and two different roofing companies. After a year of litigation filled with discovery requests, depositions, and other documents we finally were able to sort through the case.

Goldman Sachs eventually hired a management group in Texas that decided to use the services of an Atlanta roof consultant and a national roofing company to repair the hotel’s roof. The roofing company hired a Kansas subcontractor to complete the repair.

During the roof replacement process, one of the workers fell waist deep through the roof before catching himself. Here are the reenactment photos and the photos of the hole left by the incident:

Despite the incident, the roofing company argued that only the worker’s leg went through the roof and no cement blocks. This prompted further investigation to inspect the space above the ceiling at the hotel. Under the roof, a variety of drip pans for water that leaked through the roof were discovered. The roofing company discerned that the cement block that hit Niko became dislodged as a result of the roof failure. Here are a few pictures from the roofer’s investigation:

Instead of helping to resolve the case quickly, the discovery led to a wide accusation spree between the defendants. The roofers blamed the hotel because they discovered that a year before Niko’s incident at the hotel a consultant had recommended an immediate roof replacement and determined that the roof was weak. The roofers denied any knowledge of the consultant’s recommendation to the hotel. The hotel immediately placed blame on the roofing company and argued that all roofs can be weak and have issues. They further disputed that the roofing company should have inspected the roof more thoroughly and checked underneath for structural problems. Below is a photo that shows the disintegrating roof:

As the case continued to be disputed, a new question surfaced: why hold a conference under a roof that was substandard and in need of repair?

The defendants’ contracts were surrounded by indemnity provisions. As a result, cross claims were filed against the roofing companies on their contractual indemnity claim. Unfortunately, these were denied and litigated.

Additionally, the medical issues of Niko’s case presented some significant challenges. The employer at the time of the incident controlled the medical treatment in the New Yorker workers’ compensation claim. This resulted in obscure doctor reports and medical records that complicated distilling the exact details of Niko’s symptoms, diagnosis, medical condition, and the type of treatment conducted. Furthermore, there was a workers’ compensation lien under New York law. This closed the chapter on Niko’s case.