Articles Posted in Construction Injuries

A Jackson County, Ill., jury has signed a verdict for $2.3 million for Frank Adams who suffered a shoulder injury and abnormal scarring condition after he dodged a vehicles in a rear-end crash.

Adams was working as an Illinois Department Transportation (IDOT) flagger at the time of the crash. He sued pest-control company Terminix and its employee Brian Doll in 2015 claiming that Doll consciously ignored several school-zone signs and IDOT work warnings before causing the collision with an Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) van in March 2014.

The jury’s verdict, which included $2,500 in punitive damages, is the highest verdict ever reported from Jackson County, Ill., according to the Jury Verdict Reporter. Adams had stopped the Illinois Department of Corrections van driven by Charles Ray Borum, which contained eight inmates at the time, because IDOT workers were trimming trees along Illinois Route 146 near Pope County High School.

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The Illinois Appellate Court for the 1st District has affirmed the decision of a Circuit Court judge dismissing the lawsuit for the injuries suffered by Rudy Nourse while working as an elevator serviceman.

On March 20, 2014, Nourse was working for the Suburban Elevator Co. He and his supervisor were “performing an elevator modernization” project at the River North Apartments in Chicago.

Fred Carter was on the site in his capacity as an elevator inspector for the City of Chicago’s Bureau of Elevators. As the inspection was starting, Carter ordered Nourse to climb down into the elevator pit.  Nourse did so and while he was in the pit, Nourse’s supervisor, unaware of Nourse’s location, powered up the elevator, which descended into the shaft and struck Nourse, injuring him.

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From 1959 to 1964, Rivers Sampson worked as a sandblaster and used silica as an abrasive agent.  In 2014, at the age of 77,  Sampson died of sepsis and silicosis, which is a progressive disease caused by inhaling silica dust. Having silica dust attached to the lungs causes inflammation and scarring.

Sampson’s two surviving adult children brought a lawsuit against more than 20 companies that mined and sold silica for use in sandblasting. It was alleged that these defendants chose not to warn of the health risks of silica exposure. Some of these defendants settled before the trial for confidential amounts or were otherwise dismissed from the case. However, the lawsuit did proceed to a jury verdict against Mississippi Valley Silica Co.

The Sampson family sought punitive damages claiming that the defendants, in choosing not to warn of the known health hazard, constituted actual malice or gross negligence. The Sampson family asserted that the defendant failed to add product warnings regarding the health hazards of silica exposure until 1972, although the industry was well aware of the dangers since at least the 1930s.

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Dean Wilcox fell 50 feet through an open catwalk hatch onto a concrete floor. Having sustained severe injuries, he sued the on-site safety planner, Steven Basehore, for negligent planning causing the fall; Wilcox also named the safety planner’s employer, Bartlett Services Inc., and an intermediary company, ELR Consulting Inc. (ELR), in respondeat superior. ELR was one of the many contractors involved in the cleanup project.

The work being done at the  site was to dismantle a nuclear weaponry facility that measured more than 586 square miles.

Before trial, the court granted ELR judgment as a matter of law. At trial, the court instructed the jury on the borrowed servant doctrine, an extension of respondeat superior. Wilcox appealed both decisions. The Washington State Court of Appeals affirmed.

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Heron Salgado was a construction worker employed by Abel Building & Restoration. He was assigned to work at a job site at 51st Street on a scaffold that was designed, built, erected and maintained by the defendant Designed Equipment Corp. While working at that construction site, he was injured twice.

The first time Salgado was injured was on Jan. 17, 2011 when a heavy bucket fell and struck him.  Then he was injured two days later when he fell into an “opening” in the scaffolding.

Salgado filed a lawsuit against Designed Equipment Corp. in December 2012. Designed tendered its defense of the case, first to its own insurance company and then to Pekin Insurance Co., which was Abel’s insurers, arguing that Abel was an “additional insured” under Abel’s policy of insurance with Pekin.

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Theodore Sussan was working as a member of a crew maintaining park trails. He was on supervised probation and community service for a conviction on drug charges. The county had protective equipment, including safety glasses for crews to use on the job.  Sussan and the other crew members worked under the supervision of a county employee.

The county employee instructed Sussan, who was 27 at the time, to grab a rake.  They were working on the county park trails. When Sussan asked if he needed anything else, his supervisor told him no, explaining that Sussan would only be raking debris. Another crew member was using a hedge trimmer to cut brush hanging above the trail.  Sussan and other crew members followed behind, raking the fallen limbs and debris. Additional equipment, which would have included eye protection or safety glasses, was not brought along.

Several hours into this project, the crew found a large branch that protruded from bushes into a walking path. The supervisor told the crew it had to be removed and stated that a chainsaw would be needed to remove the branch. The supervisor told Sussan to pull it out and when that failed he tried to break it with his bare hands. When Sussan attempted to do that, the bark separated and the branch swung upward and punctured his right eye with a splintered stick.

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Matthew Schaefer’s employer, Brand Energy, was putting in place a scaffold at the Dynegy Power Plant. Brand Energy had complete control over the scaffold construction and had acquired the scaffold components from Universal Scaffolding & Equipment LLC. Dynegy paid for the scaffolding and owned it.

Brand Energy workers had difficulty with the Universal Scaffolding components because faulty components would not lock. While working on the assembly, a bar popped loose and struck Schaefer on the head.

Schaefer suffered serious injuries. In addition to bringing an Illinois workers’ compensation claim against Brand Energy, his employer, Schaefer also brought a lawsuit against Universal Scaffolding. Schaefer’s wife joined the lawsuit with a claim for loss of consortium.

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Heron Salgado, a construction worker, was employed by Abel Building & Restoration in January 2011 when he was assigned to work at a job site at 51st Street. He was working on a scaffold design that was built, erected and maintained by Designed Equipment Acquisition Corp. While he was working at that site, he was injured twice. Once on Jan. 17, 2011, Salgado was injured when a heavy bucket fell and struck him. Two days later he was injured again when he fell into an “opening” in the scaffolding.

Salgado filed a lawsuit against Designed Equipment in December 2012. Designed tendered its defense for this case first to its own insurance company and then to Pekin Insurance Co. who were Abel’s insurers, maintaining that Abel was an “additional insured” under Abel’s policy with Pekin.

Pekin rejected the tender of defense and filed a complaint seeking declaratory judgment. Pekin first claimed that Designed was not an additional insured under the contractor’s endorsement and also that the lease between Abel and Designed was an “insured contract” and therefore void under the Construction Contract Indemnification for Negligence Act.

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In 2006, Kipling Development Corp. was building a home in Will County, Ill. Kipling was the general contractor on the job.  The firm hired subcontractors to handle specific pieces of the job, including Speed-Drywall and United Floor Covering.

A service technician, Brian Harwell, entered the worksite to replace a furnace filter, using the stairs leading to the first floor to the basement. In the process, the stairs collapsed beneath Harwell, sending him falling into the basement. He sustained serious injuries and filed a lawsuit against Kipling as the general contractor of the building site.

In the lawsuit, it was alleged that Kipling was negligent in choosing not to properly supervise and direct construction and failing to furnish Harwell with a safe workplace and a safe stairway. In addition, Harwell also sued Speed-Drywall and United Floor Covering, claiming that they had modified or failed to secure the stairwell.

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James Folta was diagnosed with mesothelioma 41 years after he was alleged to have been exposed to asbestos fibers while working for Ferro Engineering.

Because Section 6(c) of the Illinois Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act bars asbestos claims unless they are filed with the workers’ compensation commission within 25 years of the last on-the-job exposure to asbestos, Folta’s only ground for recovering from Ferro was to argue that the exclusive-remedies provisions in the Workers’ Compensation Act and the occupational diseases statute do not apply on the grounds that his injury was “not compensable.”

The Illinois Supreme Court explained in Meerbrey v. Marshall Field & Co., 139 Ill.2d 455 (1990), that the exclusive-remedy section of the compensation statute does not bar a tort case against an employer if “the employee-plaintiff proves: (1) that the injury was not accidental; (2) that the injury did not arise from his or her employment; (3) that the injury was not received during the course of employment; or (4) that the injury was not compensable under the act.” Meerbrey, 139 Ill.2d at 463, citing Collier v. Wagner Castings, 81 Ill.2d 229 (1980).

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