Articles Posted in Construction Accidents

Robert Howard was a 55-year-old truck driver when he arrived at a Nucor-Yamato Steel Co. facility to transport steel machine equipment. His flatbed tractor trailer was directed to a loading area where a Nucor employee was operating the crane to be used for loading the equipment onto Howard’s flatbed truck.

The Nucor employee positioned the load parallel to and partially above the trailer. While Howard attempted to place wood dunnage, a securing device, into the proper position on the trailer, the Nucor employee unexpectedly moved the 50,000-pound load, causing it to strike the dunnage. This forced Howard off the trailer. He suffered a compression fracture to his left heel bone as a result of his fall.

Howard underwent surgery and continues to have problems with mobility and pain. He has not returned to his job, in which he has been paid $22,600 per year. He has incurred medical expenses of about $46,000.

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Joseph Sondag was alleged in this lawsuit to have been exposed to asbestos dust from drywall tape manufactured by Tremco when he worked as a plasterer from 1957 to 1983. In 2007, he was diagnosed with pleural plaques and interstitial fibrosis.

At trial, Sondag’s treating physician, Dr. Al Rossi, testified that these conditions were probably caused by on-the-job exposure to asbestos. However, Dr. Rossi did not diagnose Sondag as suffering any symptoms from this condition.

According to Sondag’s wife, Phyllis, and their daughter, he suffered from shortness of breath. But he was an ex-smoker and was 82 when the case was tried. There was no expert testimony that the pleural plaques and interstitial fibrosis were symptomatic.

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A Chicago real estate developer, Perry Casalino, hired Ramon Gavina as a laborer to install wallpaper inside the entrance of a building at 1513 N. Western Ave. in Chicago. Gavia maintained that Casalino purchased materials and tools, instructed him as to how to perform the work and told him to climb up on a scaffold to hang the wallpaper.

When Gavina climbed on top of the scaffolding on Jan. 14, 2009, it collapsed. He fell to the ground and sustained a tibial plateau fracture in his knee.  The injury will require surgery as recommended by his orthopedic surgeon.

Gavina sued Casalino and his company. Casalino and, on behalf of his development company, denied that he was present at the time of the incident, denied that he owned the scaffolding and denied knowing the owner of the scaffold.

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Anthony Cozzone was employed by Fellows Roofing when he was killed in a work accident. The Cozzone estate filed a lawsuit against a third party who settled with the Cozzone family for $745,000. The attorney representing the family received attorney fees of 33% or $248,333. In the meantime, a jury in a contribution case decided that Fellows Roofing was 100% responsible for the accident that killed Cozzone. Fellows Roofing waived its statutory workers’ compensation lien under Section 5(b) and requested that the trial judge dismiss the contribution case.

Fellows had already paid $117,539 in benefits for Cozzone’s 4-year-old and 2-year-old sons based on an order from the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission that required the employer to pay $466 a week until the children turned 18 (or 25 if they continued to be full-time students). The $745,000 settlement was paid by the owner and tenant of the building where the fatal incident took place.

As part of the settlement, the owner of the building and tenant assigned to the family of Cozzone the rights they had against Fellows under the Illinois Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act.

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In July 2013, ALL Erection & Crane Rental Corp. of Independence, Ohio, leased a crane to White Construction of Clinton, Ind. The crane was a Manitowoc 2250 Crawler Crane.

In the summer of 2012, Kyle Carson was working for White Construction at a wind farm in Indiana where his employer had a contract to build wind turbines.

Carson worked primarily as a crane oiler, providing general maintenance on the crane and serving as the eyes and ears of Joe Dowell, the crane operator. On Sept. 20, 2012, Carson and Dowell were told to move the crane to a wind turbine platform several miles from where the crane started that day.

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Harry DeSchene, a 53-year-old worker for Pavement Recycling, was seriously injured on a jobsite. He was walking behind a water truck to take a work-related phone call when a truck driver of Emmett’s Excavation backed his truck into him. He was run over at his midsection. He suffered a pelvic fracture, a dislocated right elbow and other internal injuries.

DeSchene’s medical expenses were $400,000. He is now totally disabled and unable to return to work.

DeSchene and his wife filed a lawsuit against Emmett’s Excavation claiming that its employee was negligent by choosing not to walk around his truck to clear the area before backing up. In other words, it was the truck driver’s duty to make sure no one was near the rear end of his truck before he backed it up. Emmett’s argued that DeSchene acted negligently himself by engaging in a conversation on his phone behind the Emmett’s truck.

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The Illinois Appellate Court for the First District has held that an insurer had a duty to defend an additional insured who was entitled under the policy of insurance to coverage because of vicarious liability even though the underlying complaint against it included no allegations of vicarious liability. CSR Roofing Contractors was the general roofing contractor for a construction project in Lisle, Ill. It hired a subcontractor, Zamastil Exteriors, to perform a portion of the work in accordance with a master subcontract agreement.

The subcontract agreement required Zamastil to obtain additional insurance coverage for CSR that was not limited to vicarious liability. Vicarious liability is a term based on the principles of agency. In accident cases like this, the negligence of an employee or independent contractor can be imputed to the person’s employer when acting within the scope of employment. The legal doctrine of vicarious liability would make an employer liable for the acts of its employee. In other words, if the person is acting on behalf of the employer or master, the employer or the master can be held responsible for negligence caused by that employee.

The agreement between Zamastil and CSR provided that both CSR and Zamastil were responsible for complying with all federal safety regulations.

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On June 11, 2008, Louis Fortino slipped and fell on wet concrete slurry while doing a village inspection of a construction site in LaGrange Park, Ill. Voightmann Services Inc. was the general contractor for the construction project. 

Mr. Fortino was 64 years old and sustained a severe rotator cuff injury with complete separation of cuff tendons from their connection to the bone, which required surgery to reattach the tendons, using anchors and hardware. The surgery was followed by nine months of physical therapy and work-hardening. Mr. Fortino missed three months as a part-time building inspector and has retired.

At trial, he contended that Voightmann chose not to clean the wet concrete slurry that had been left on the street. The defendant contended that the slurry was left by concrete trucks the day before when it may have been obscured by water.  Voightmann also argued to the jury that Mr. Fortino should have seen the wet concrete area and avoided it. 

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The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that the mailbox rule applies when filing a notice of appeal. That means that if an appellant seeks an appeal to a higher court, the notice of appeal time is satisfied as long as the notice is mailed to the Clerk of the Circuit Court before the 30-day deadline expires. That is the case no matter when the notice of appeal is actually received and stamped as filed. The appellate court has also decided that the same principles of the mailbox rule apply to filing initial complaints or seeking post-judgment relief under §2-1401 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure.

The question for the Illinois Supreme Court was whether the mailbox rule applied to Mark Gruszeczka’s request for judicial review of a ruling by the Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Gruszeczka alleged that he was injured while working for Alliance Contractors. He claimed  he was entitled to benefits under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. An arbitrator ruled against him, and there was no dispute that the mailbox rule applied when he asked the commission to review that decision.

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In a lawsuit against ExxonMobil Corp., four individuals claimed injury and death because they were exposed to benzene and other hazardous chemicals when they worked as rubber workers, tire builders and final finish laborers at a tire manufacturing facility.  The cases were brought by the families of these deceased workers for their wrongful deaths and survival claims. In the circuit court, the claims were dismissed on summary judgment being timed-barred. This case was filed in Wisconsin and the plaintiffs appealed to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.

In the lawsuit that was filed, the four individuals also claimed that they suffered personal injuries and died as a result of their exposure to benzene and benzene-containing materials. 

It was determined by the trial judge that the statute of limitations began to run for all claims at the latest on the decedents’ dates of death and that the complaint, which was filed more than three years (statute of limitations in Wisconsin), after those dates was time-barred because the three years had passed.

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