Jury Finds for Construction Company in Ironworker Injury at Loop High-Rise – Silva v. O’Sullivan Plumbing

A Chicago ironworker was unable to convince a Cook County jury that another construction worker was responsible for his construction site accident and injuries. Instead the jury decided in favor of the defendant construction company in Anthony Silva v. O’Sullivan Plumbing, Inc., 06 L 13525, and denied the plaintiff damages for his construction site injury.

Anthony Silva was an ironworker employed by Walsh Construction, a general contracting construction management company. At the time of his 2004 construction injury, Silva was working on the Shoreham Residential project located at 400 E. South Water St. in Chicago. Silva was performing work on a plumbing pipe that was located between two concrete walls that would be used to create the elevator core walls.

At trail, Silva testified that he had followed the required safety protocol by using a tie-wire to tie by the concrete form wall back in order to expose the pipe so that he could work behind the form walls. However, while he was working, the tied-back form wall fell and struck Silva on his back and wrist. He required surgeries for both his cervical disc injury and his wrist injuries.

Silva blamed his injuries on the negligence of another construction worker who was employed by the job’s plumbing subcontractor, O’Sullivan Plumbing. Silva alleged that the plumbing employee cut the tie-wire, causing the wall to fall on Silva. Two of Silva’s coworkers backed up Silva’s statement with their own testimony at the Cook County personal injury trial.

However, O’Sullivan Plumbing denied its employee’s negligence in Silva’s injuries and contended that Silva’s injuries did not occur in the manner which he stated. In order to support this view, O’Sullivan Plumbing pointed to the safety investigation into the cause of Silva’s injuries. The investigation was conducted by Silva’s employer, Walsh Construction, and concluded that the construction injury was caused by Silva’s failure to properly brace and block the wall form in which he was working.

There were several written and signed statements contained in this safety investigation, most of whom were either supervisors or coworkers of Silva’s. Five of those Walsh employees testified at trial, including the two coworkers who backed up Silva’s versions of the events. However, the three Walsh supervisors testified that their investigative reports were inaccurate and unreliable and offered testimony that refuted the statements contained in the investigative reports.

The attorneys for the defendant O’Sullivan Plumbing used these countering statements as a means of impeaching the testimony of all the Walsh employees. By doing so, O’Sullivan Plumbing were able to call into question the reliability of the Walsh employees’ testimony, thereby encouraging the jury to question the credibility of Silva’s version of his work injury.

O’Sullivan Plumbing tactics proved to be successful, as the Cook County jury found in favor of the defendant plumbing company. Silva had asked the jury to return a verdict of $657,457, and prior to the start of the Cook County had demanded $900,000 from O’Sullivan Plumbing in order to settle the personal injury lawsuit. However, O’Sullivan Plumbing’s highest offer was only $30,000; an amount that it will not have to pay because of the not guilty verdict.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois construction accidents cases for individuals and families for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and surrounding areas, including Bartlett, Elgin, LaGrange, Joliet, and Woodstock.

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