Worker Hurt in Fall Wins $ 4.65M Settlement

The Times Union, December 16, 1994
© 1994 The Hearst Corporation


HEADLINE: Worker hurt in fall wins $ 4.65M settlement; The award may be the largest ever in Schenectady County

A city man who has to take injections of pain medication through a permanently implanted tube in his chest every two hours, has won a $ 4.65 million state Supreme Court settlement of his lawsuit against his former employer. The settlement, which was reached Wednesday while the plaintiff, Charles Ruff, was still presenting his case, is believed to be the largest settlement ever in Schenectady County, said court clerk Elaine Bush.

The non-jury trial before acting Supreme Court Justice Angelo Lomanto began two weeks ago.

On Dec. 11, 1989, Ruff was working for McNar Industries Inc., on a project at a Schenectady Municipal Housing Authority site when the scaffolding collapsed. He sustained massive internal injuries and multiple fractures of his spine, Ruff's attorney James Bendall said.

Since then, Ruff has undergone several operations for both the internal injuries and the spinal breaks, including metal rods implanted to stabilize the back. He also has permanent intractable pain for which he must give himself an injection every two hours.

In the lawsuit, Ruff sued the Municipal Housing Authority, which then sued McNar Industries. It is McNar and its insurance carrier which will pay the $ 4.65 million within the next week, Bendall said.

Bendall's partner and co-counsel at trial, Kevin Mednick, said this case ''is a good example of why there should be no cap on pain and suffering awards in this state.'' According to the attorneys, Ruff has already had surgical bills of nearly $ 300,000 and said just the pain medication is estimated to cost $ 100 per day with other medical expenses totaling nearly $ 40,000 per year.

"He will not be able to work for the rest of his life," said Bendall, "and will be in pain every day of his life."

Ruff, 40, and his wife have no children and live in the city.