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A Court of Claims judge in New York has awarded nearly $1.7 million to an “energetic young man” who emigrated from Russia in search of a better life, only to find his dreams “stalled” by a workplace accident. Although Judge Thomas H. Scuccimarra of White Plains, N.Y., was skeptical that Denis Molodtsov’s prognosis is as bleak as the claimant and his experts testified, he said the state’s failure to rebut left him with few options. “Unfortunately … only Counsel for the Claimant furnished some helpful case law allowing the Court to compare the type of injuries alleged and proven here to other cases where damages have been given,” Scuccimarra wrote in Molodtsov v. State, 107063. “Counsel for the Defendant presented nothing, saying, essentially, give the Claimant less than what he is asking for.” Court records show that Molodtsov came to this country in 2001, when he was 21. He had worked in his father’s construction business in Russia while completing high school and studying classical guitar. After working at a series of construction-related jobs in the United States, Molodtsov eventually got a job with an asbestos removal firm. The firm was hired to remove asbestos from an underground tunnel at the Taconic Developmental Disabilities Organization, a state-operated mental health facility in Wassaic, N.Y. On Oct. 13, 2002, Molodtsov was working in a steam tunnel when he fell from a height of six to eight feet and injured his arms, wrists and knee. Scuccimarra had earlier found the state wholly and strictly liable under Labor Law ��240(1) and 241(6). His most recent decision dealt only with damages. The court observed that Molodtsov has undergone three operations and endured pain that will likely haunt him for the rest of his life. Scuccimarra said Molodtsov had been accepted at Baruch College to study business and had planned to enroll in spring 2003, but was prevented from doing so because of his injuries. Now, he “sits at home doing nothing” while “his friends move on with their lives,” the judge said. He said Molodtsov’s leisure activities, such as snow boarding and hiking, have been limited by his injuries. Experts for Molodtsov testified that his prognosis for further recovery is relatively poor, and that while he will be able to work, he will not be as successful as he otherwise may have been. “Although the Court has some doubt that Claimant’s prospects are as dim as those drawn by his testimony, and that of his witnesses, in the absence of credible, contradictory evidence presented by a defense as vigorously presented as was the Claimant’s case, nothing fills the void but the version of events and prospects presented by Claimant,” Scuccimarra wrote. The bulk of the $1.66 million award was for future lost wages, for which the court awarded $800,000. Scuccimarra also awarded $500,000 for future pain and suffering, $150,000 for past pain and suffering, $120,000 for past lost wages, $40,000 for future medical expenses and $53,871 on a Workers’ Compensation lien. Abram I. Bohrer of Danker & Milstein in Manhattan, who argued for the claimant, was seeking a total award of $2 million. Assistant Attorney General Dewey Lee defended the state.

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