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Olean laborer awarded nearly $5 million for workplace injury

LITTLE VALLEY – An Olean masonry laborer injured on a Cattaraugus County construction site in March 2010 was awarded nearly $5 million by a jury after a two-week trial in State Supreme Court.

Attorneys for Ned Gould, 46, said he sustained severe injuries to his shoulder, neck and back when a 300-pound mortar tub, similar in size and shape to a bathtub, fell onto him from a forklift. Gould was on a ladder, working as a tender for mortar workers at the time on a project at Cattaraugus-Little Valley High School. The tub fell from a height of 15 to 20 feet and broke the ladder.

Gould tried to keep working for a week after the accident, his attorney, John F. Maxwell, said, but his injuries overtook him. He has since had surgeries on his neck and shoulder, with more scheduled, according to Maxwell.

Jurors in Little Valley found defendants Casler Masonry and E.E. Austin & Son liable and awarded Gould $4.9 million. Attorneys for the contractors had argued that, since Gould had been able to work immediately after the accident, his injuries likely were caused by something else. They also attributed some of his physical complaints to the fundamental nature of the work.

Justice Jeremiah Moriarty presided over the trial.

William Murphy, who also was Gould’s attorney, said in a release that they believe this is one of the largest jury verdicts ever awarded in Cattaraugus County.