GWC Obtains $1.2 Million for Union Electrician

 In Construction Accidents Blog, Firm News, Personal Injury Blog
union electrician

Louis Anthony Cairo

GWC attorney Louis Anthony Cairo has obtained a $1.2 million settlement for a union electrician following a residential construction accident.

Union Electrician Trips Avoiding Falling Plywood

GWC’s client was a 41-year-old union electrician and a proud member of IBEW Local 150. In May 2017, he was performing electrical work as a subcontractor on a residential home construction project in Lakewood, IL.

On the date of the incident, the electrician was installing a service meter approximately six feet beneath the first floor of a home under construction. While he was working, three carpenters began laying down sheets of decking on the building’s first floor. Suddenly, a carpenter dropped a 4’x8’ sheet of plywood, causing it to fall towards the electrician below. Alerted by an exclamation from one of the carpenters, the client started to run away from the home in order to avoid being struck. While doing so, he tripped on ruts and grooves on the ground and fell down onto his right shoulder.

Serious Injuries to Both Shoulders

As a result of this incident, the client was diagnosed with right shoulder impingement syndrome with positive Tinel at the elbow. His physicians initially attempted conservative treatment that included muscle relaxers, a physical therapy regimen, and a cortisone injection, all while restricting him to light duty work.

When the client’s pain persisted, his doctors ordered an MRI that revealed a non-displaced SLAP tear of the right shoulder, necessitating surgical intervention in the form of an arthroscopic debridement, acromioplasty, and rotator cuff repair. He required the use of a sling for six weeks post-surgically, as well as additional physical therapy.

As he was undergoing treatment for his right shoulder, the client suffered an injury to his other shoulder while he was working light duty. In October 2017, he stepped onto the tire of his work truck and was reaching up with his left arm to grab construction materials when he slipped, forcing him to hang and twist with only one arm acting as support.

The client was subsequently diagnosed with bursitis of the left shoulder. After receiving epidural steroid injections and physical therapy, he required surgery in the form of an arthroscopic rotator cuff repair with open biceps tenodesis, followed by the use of a sling and another round of physical therapy.

GWC Files Suit Against Two Parties

The electrician retained GWC as his personal injury attorneys. In an effort to obtain full and fair compensation for the client, Mr. Cairo filed suit against both the general contractor and the carpentry subcontractor on the residential home construction project.

Mr. Cairo argued that the carpentry subcontractor was liable because its employees negligently dropped the plywood in the client’s direction despite knowing that he was working below them, setting off the chain of events that led to his injuries. Additionally, he asserted that the general contractor was also liable for the accident because of the level of control it exercised over all aspects of the project, including jobsite safety.

“The general contractor was in charge of implementing all of the safety rules and procedures for the entire jobsite,” said Mr. Cairo. “It had the authority and responsibility to stop work, coordinate the work, or correct the way the work was being performed if it was being done unsafely. By not properly coordinating the work along with permitting the carpenters to handle their materials carelessly while another tradesperson was working nearby, the general contractor shared responsibility for our client’s injuries.”

Arguments Refuted During Deposition and Mediation

GWC faced significant pushback from the Defendants. The general carpenter insisted that it did not exercise enough actual control over its subcontractors to be held responsible for their actions. The carpentry subcontractor disputed whether the incident occurred at all, noting that the three carpenters on the deck testified that they had no recollection of anything happening and denied that the client ever reported the accident to them.

Additionally, both Defendants argued that the client’s left shoulder injury was completely unrelated to the matter in question, so they bore no financial responsibility for it.

Mr. Cairo successfully refuted the Defense’s objections at a mediation presided over by the Hon. Joseph Casciato, Retired, of ADR. In constructing his arguments, he drew heavily upon testimony from both Plaintiff and Defense witnesses.

During an earlier deposition, Mr. Cairo got the general contractor’s superintendent to admit under oath that he was responsible for the overall safety of the project, which included the work of the carpentry subcontractor. The general contractor’s expert witness also testified that the superintendent was in charge of project safety.

In light of these admissions, Mr. Cairo argued that the general contractor’s claim that it did not exercise “actual control” demonstrated that it had negligently breached its responsibilities on the project, making it liable for the electrician’s injuries.

Additionally, Mr. Cairo rebutted the carpentry subcontractor’s argument that the incident never occurred by turning its own expert witness’s testimony against it. During a sworn deposition, the witness asserted that, in the absence of corroborating statements from the carpenters on the site, the parties “had to rely” on the electrician’s testimony that the incident DID occur.

Finally, Mr. Cairo called upon medical experts who refuted Defense arguments that the client’s left shoulder injury was not directly related to the initial incident. Specifically, the client’s surgeon opined that his compromised right shoulder at the time of the second accident was a significant contributing factor in his second injury. He argued that, but for the first incident in which the client injured his right shoulder, the injury to the left shoulder would not have occurred due to the limited use of his right arm.

Large Settlement for Union Electrician

Mr. Cairo’s arguments on behalf of his client proved persuasive. Following the mediation, the Defendants agreed to settle the case for a total of $1.2 million, along with a $193,000.00 workers’ compensation lien reduction.

“This terrible incident dealt a devastating personal, professional, and economic blow to our client and his family,” said Mr. Cairo. “GWC is proud we were able to help set him on the path to a brighter future.”

Helping Victims of Construction Accidents

Construction accidents are at the heart of some of the most challenging cases in personal injury litigation. Achieving a successful outcome requires comprehensive knowledge of the construction industry and its operations, government regulations, and the law. In the face of these obstacles, many injured workers over the past four decades have sought out the construction accident attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC.

With more than $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. Our firm has represented members of nearly every major building trades union in the state, so much so that GWC has been called “the construction accident law firm.” These unions count on us to help their members when a construction accident happens because they have seen what we can do firsthand.

Contact GWC today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.

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