A Chicago jury awarded $850,000 to a Chicago construction employee who suffered severe injuries after falling from his work on elevated train tracks. The personal injury verdict in Raul Luna et al. v. Chicago Transit Authority, Kiewit Western Co., Divane Brothers Electric Co., et al., No. 07 L 12550, came despite evidence that suggested the employee was injured because he violated some of the construction site’s safety requirements.
Raul Luna was an industrial painter employed by SCI Coatings, LLC. At the time of his construction site accident, Luna was working on Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) elevated railroad tracks as part of the CTA’s Chicago Loop renovation project. Luna was brought in to help sandblast and paint columns on the Van Buren St. train tracks between State St. and Wabash Ave. Because the train tracks were elevated, workers were using a manlift to reach the above ground areas. This essentially involved workers securing themselves using a harness-like device in order to prevent them from falling in the event that they slipped while working above ground.
In addition to his painting duties, Luna was also responsible of removing the construction site’s containment structure, which was constructed of tarps and wood two-by-fours. In order to reach the top of containment structure, Luna used the manlift as required by the job’s safety requirements. Luna proceeded to remove the nails from the two-by-fours in order to break down the containment structure. However, at some point Luna untied himself from the manlift, exited its basket area, and began to crawl across the elevated tracks.
It was while crawly unprotected across the tracks that Luna fell; one of the two-by-fours broke as Luna was removing a nail, sending him falling to the street below. Luna sustained an epidural hematoma, a comminuted displaced wrist fracture, and a comminuted fibula fracture. The fibula fracture required an internal fixation surgery so that Luna’s bones would heal properly. In addition, Luna suffered from a traumatic brain injury, which left him with cognitive, psychological, and behavioral deficits following his construction site injury.