Chicago Roofing Accident Settlement Reached With Metra and Other Defendants

A $6.25 million settlement was reached in an Illinois work site injury lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County for a roofing accident that occurred at a Chicago South Side Metra facility, Luis Vasquez, et al., v. Walsh Construction Company, et al., No. 04 L 011387. The construction site injury lawsuit was brought by a Chicago roofer who fell 20 feet to a concrete floor while replacing concrete panel roofing tiles. The Cook County case was filed against Metra and several other contractors whom the plaintiff contended were liable for his injuries.

As a result of his fall, the roofer suffered a mild traumatic brain injury, fractured his wrist, herniated several discs in his spine, tore his knee cartilage, and sprained his ankle. The Chicago construction site accident occurred in 2004 and the plaintiff has not been able to return to work. Prior to the accident he had been a union roofer for over 30 years.

Like many construction site accident lawsuits, in Vasquez the plaintiffs alleged that multiple defendants played a role in the resulting injury. Metra was involved in the lawsuit because it owned the Chicago facility where the construction site accident occurred. Metra had contracted its tile replacement project to Walsh Construction Co., who was then responsible for overseeing the roof maintenance. Walsh in turn sub-contracted the labor to Knickerbocker Roofing and Paving Co., who was the plaintiff’s employer and would later be added to the case as a third-party defendant. Consoer Townsend Environdyne (CTE Inc.) was the site engineer of the roofing project while Cotter Consulting was responsible for determining which roofing panels needed to be replaced.

Plaintiff contended that while working on replacing the concrete roofing panels he was standing on a panel that was not marked for replacement, which he therefore assumed was safe. However, while removing debris from the roof he heard a ‘ripping’ noise, immediately after which he fell through the roofing panel.

Unlike many types of employment where workers generally work for one entity, on construction sites there are often many layers of employment with companies often sharing the responsibility of successfully completing a job. However, when something goes wrong on a job, like a work site injury, these multiple companies often share a portion of the liability.

As owner of the space Metra was responsible for bringing in Walsh Construction Co., who ultimately oversaw the various aspects of the roofing replacement. As the general contractor, Walsh was responsible for making hiring various companies to handle different aspects of the job and that everything on the job site move along according to schedule. As the site engineer, CTE Inc. was responsible for making sure that all the technical aspects of the site were organized and appropriate. Cotter Consulting was actually responsible for identifying the actual tiles that were unsafe and needed to be repaired; it was involved for its failure to identify the faulty tile the plaintiff fell through.

Knickerbocker Roofing and Paving Co., the plaintiff’s employer, was involved as a third-party defendant. This means that Knickerbocker was not named by the plaintiff, but was brought into the case by the other defendants who contended that Knickerbocker shared a portion of the liability for the plaintiff’s injuries. The reason that the employer was not named as a defendant in the plaintiff’s original construction site injury lawsuit is that employees are not allowed to sue their employers in Illinois.

Instead, an Illinois employee seeking compensation for a work site injury directly from his or her employer would file an Illinois workers’ compensation claim. And in most instances a workers’ compensation claim would be the extent of the employee’s recovery for damages. However, in cases like Vasquez, where other parties’ negligence contributed to the injury, a work site injury lawsuit is also filed.

In Vasquez, all the defendants contributed to the final settlement of $6.5 million and the plaintiff’s employer waived its workers’ compensation lien against the lawsuit’s award. If Vasquez had gone to trial the jury would have been instructed to determine the degree of liability on behalf of each defendant. However, under a settlement each defendant makes its own offer which the plaintiff either accepts or rejects. The plaintiff in Vasquez obviously accepted the Illinois settlement, putting an end to the case before it went to trial.

Kreisman Law Offices have been handling Chicago construction accident lawsuits for over 30 years, serving those areas in and around Cook County, including Naperville, Alsip, Blue Island, and Schaumburg.

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