GWC Partners Louis C. Cairo, Michael D. Fisher, and Louis Anthony Cairo have obtained an $8 million settlement for the family of a union tuckpointer who was fatally injured in an unwitnessed lift tipover accident.
Tipover Paralyzes Tuckpointer
In June 2016, GWC’s union tuckpointer client was employed on a construction project at a high school in Aurora, IL. During the course of the work day, GWC’s client was operating an aerial lift inside the basket, 30 feet in the air on sloped terrain, when the lift unexpectedly tipped over. He was left hanging from the lift basket some 25 feet off the ground until firefighters were able to gain access to him.
The union tuckpointer suffered catastrophic injuries in the lift accident, including C1-4 quadriplegia. He was required to reside in intensive care units and live-in rehabilitation facilities until his death 26 months later.
GWC Uncovers a Multitude of Failures and Breaches
GWC filed suit against the company that rented the aerial lift to the tuckpointer’s employer. In working to establish negligence on the part of the rental company, attorneys Cairo, Fisher, and Cairo uncovered a multitude of failures and breaches that resulted in the unsafe lift being provided to the deceased.
GWC argued that the Defendant owned and had the sole responsibility to inspect, maintain, and repair the lift in question and that it was the company’s policy and procedure to inspect, maintain, and, if necessary, repair its lifts before each rental.
Despite these duties, the firm’s investigation revealed that the Defendant did not inspect the aerial lift prior to its rental on the date of the incident. Instead, the Defendant had rented out the lift to another job site on the previous day before delivering it to the Aurora job site, with no inspection between the two rentals.
Significant Deficiencies in Inspection Process
GWC also found significant deficiencies in the Defendant’s inspection process. Specifically, the rental company’s standard pre-occurrence inspections did not include putting any lifts in a “tilted” position whereby the tilt sensor safety systems would be activated. This would have facilitated the inspection of the tilt audio alarm and the tilt warning light.
According to testimony from the Defendant’s own witnesses during sworn depositions, if any one of the tilt sensor safety system warning devices was not working properly or inoperable, the lift would be unreasonably dangerous and should not be sent out for rental. Unfortunately, these tests were not performed, so the defective lift was released for use.
Damaged Equipment and No Training
Additionally, GWC showed that the Defendant had failed to provide familiarization training for the aerial lift to anyone working for the tuckpointer’s employer at the time of delivery. This training would have included an inspection of the tilt sensor safety system, which would have allowed the employer to discover that the lift’s safety devices were inoperable and reject the machine.
Instead, the tuckpointer was permitted to use a lift whose safety devices failed to warn him that the machine was operating under dangerous conditions, even though he was working on terrain that was more than sloped enough to have activated the audio alarm.
Multiple post-incident inspections and testing further revealed that the tilt audio alarm speaker was in an inoperable, damaged condition and that the tilt warning light was insufficient under bright, daylight conditions.
Finally, GWC demonstrated that the Defendant had failed to properly evaluate the job site terrain and select the appropriate lift for the location. Such an evaluation would have revealed that the lift was the wrong size for the work and the terrain. Notably, a different, larger lift was later used for the work in that area.
Large Settlement for Tuckpointer’s Family
In light of GWC’s compelling arguments and the extensive evidence the firm produced establishing the rental company’s negligence, the Defendant agreed to tender its primary and excess insurance policies in the amount of $8 million for the tuckpointer’s surviving family members.
“As a condition to settling the case for the full extent of the insurance coverage, we made the Defendant produce its financial statements and profits and losses to ensure this Defendant didn’t have liquid assets to pay our client’s estate above the insurance limits,” said GWC Partner Louis Anthony Cairo. “Ultimately, we are satisfied that we would not have been able to secure more than the $8 million. We are quite proud to get our widowed client some semblance of justice after she endured such a horrible tragedy.”
“Our persistence and aggressiveness throughout the litigation were key in holding this Defendant accountable for its negligence, which resulted in a terrible loss for our client,” added GWC Partner Michael D. Fisher.
Fighting for Catastrophic Construction Accident Victims
If you have been seriously injured in a construction accident, you may soon discover that financial recovery can prove challenging. Successful construction accident litigation demands comprehensive knowledge of the operations of the industry, federal regulations, and state law. For this reason, injured victims have turned to the construction accident attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC for more than four decades.
With over $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. We have earned a reputation as “the construction accident law firm” because we have represented members of nearly all of the state’s major building trades unions. These unions count on GWC when a construction accident occurs because they have seen for themselves what we can do.
For a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys, contact GWC today. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.