On Aug. 26, 2009, a construction superintendent was surveying an interstitial ceiling space in a high-rise building for the purpose of designing a mechanical system to be retrofit into the ceiling area.
The area was unlit, filled with asbestos insulated trusses and numerous obstructions. The crew was dispatched with nothing but headlamps and no warning that the ceiling surface upon which they would be walking had numerous trap door areas that were covered with ordinary ceiling tiles, rather than a metal and lath system that was very safe to walk on.
While maneuvering through the darkness of the space, the worker encountered an access panel covered with nothing but a ceiling tile and fell 13 feet. He suffered a mild traumatic brain injury resulting in aphasia and apraxia, which cause a significant speech dysfluency. The property manager of this governmental building and the general contractor, both of whom were aware of the access panel trap doors, paid $10,000,000 through a single insurance policy.