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GWC Obtains Settlement Valued at Over $710,160.00 for Union Pipefitter

Michael D. Fisher

GWC Partner Michael D. Fisher and Attorney Bennett J. Baker recently obtained a settlement valued at over $710,160.00 for a union pipefitter who was injured when he fell more than six feet off of a defectively designed and constructed platform.

Dangerous Design Flaw

GWC’s client, an HVAC service technician, has been a union pipefitter since 1990 and remains a proud member of Pipefitters Local 501/597. On October 4, 2010, he was servicing a rooftop air-handling unit at an Aurora healthcare center. To access the unit, he was using a fixed-metal platform that was erected immediately adjacent to it.

The platform had been designed and constructed for this sole purpose several years before the incident. It was designed and erected with a full guardrail that surrounded the platform except at its far north end, which was completely open.

“The north end was left unprotected because it was at this end that access was provided by means of a fixed ladder,” said Mr. Fisher. “Unfortunately for our client, this design feature ended up being a dangerous design flaw.”

While the client was working at the north end of the platform, a door to the HVAC unexpectedly “popped open,” causing him to lose his balance and fall approximately six-and-a-half feet off of the platform to the rooftop below.

Multiple Fractures and Injuries

Bennett J. Baker

GWC’s client was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where he was hospitalized for six days for various serious injuries, including multiple fractures of the right wrist, nerve damage, four rib fractures, lacerations of the liver and the adrenal gland, right carpal tunnel syndrome, and trauma to the right shoulder.

He underwent two surgeries shortly after the incident: an open reduction and internal fixation of the distal radius of the right wrist and a right carpal tunnel release. A year later, he underwent a third surgery involving removal of hardware, an open reduction and internal fixation with bone grafting, and carpal tunnel and ulnar nerve release. Even with this medical care, the client still suffers with chronic pain and loss of motion in his right wrist.

For much of the year after his fall, the client’s right arm was in a cast, a splint, or an immobilizer, and he was unable to perform the duties of his job. His inability to perform his trade caused him to sustain approximately eighteen months of lost wages.

Failure to Perform Duties Within Standard of Care

In seeking just compensation for their client, Mr. Fisher and Mr. Baker noted that the design engineer/architect responsible for designing the platform was contractually obligated to “perform its duties within the standard of care ordinarily exercised under similar circumstances by competent members of its profession” and to “review laws, codes, and regulations applicable.”

GWC argued that the design engineer/architect failed to act in accordance with this standard of care because it did not design the platform and the guardrail in compliance with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) law.

GWC’s expert witnesses testified that “OSHA law requires every ladder way…platform to be guarded by a standard railing, with passage through the railing either provided by a swing gate or so offset that a person cannot walk directly into the opening,” a feature that the platform in question did not have.

“In fact,” said Mr. Fisher, “both the project’s architect and structural engineer admitted at deposition that they never referred to or considered the OSHA law in their design. If they had, it’s possible that this terrible accident could have been prevented.”

Based on this and other arguments, Mr. Fisher and Mr. Baker obtained a settlement valued at over $710,160.00 – including a waiver of $160,663.00 of the workers’ compensation lien asserted against the case – from the designer engineer/architect and four other contractors involved in the matter.

Personal Injury Attorneys

In order to make sure that you receive the compensation that you deserve for your injuries, it is important to select the right attorney, like the personal injury attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers.

If you have been wrongfully injured, contact GWC to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys. Call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with one of our representatives at any time.