Jeffrey N. Catalano and Christine R. Thompson obtained a $1.5 million settlement in a workplace accident case involving the death of a worker who was killed while installing pollution control equipment in a confined space at a Massachusetts factory.
The equipment was a 12-foot diameter wheel that weighed over 1,000 pounds when fully assembled. It came in two halves that, when connected, rotated around a center axel or hub.
On May 1, 2018, the 42-year-old worker entered the confined space, and, once inside, removed wood blocks that were propping up half of the wheel while it was suspended by a sling from above by a forklift.
The half-wheel then swung toward the worker crushing him against the inside of the metal housing unit, nearly amputating his left arm and causing multiple fractures. Emergency rescue efforts were delayed because the EMTs had to maneuver around piping in the confined space. After suffering massive bleeding, the worker died of a cardiac arrest approximately 40 minutes following the accident.
The plaintiff alleged that the defendant factory and the general contractor deviated from manufacturer instructions when they assembled the wheel inside the confined space and used wood blocks to prop up half the wheel. Also contrary to manufacturer instructions, a forklift, instead of a crane, was used to hoist the wheel into the housing unit creating further instability and danger.
The general contractor failed to have an Attendant and Entry Supervisor at the entrance to the space to prevent the decedent from entering. The plaintiff also alleged that the defendant factory failed to have a Rescue Plan, which delayed the ability of emergency responders to get to the worker and to remove him to stop the bleeding in time and save his life.
The defendants contested liability, claiming the deceased worker knew he was not permitted to enter the confined space. Moreover, the autopsy toxicology report revealed that the decedent had very elevated levels of cannabis in his system.
The decedent was unmarried with one adult son at the time of death. The plaintiff did not claim lost income because the decedent was a temporary worker and did not earn a significant income.
The settlement was reached following a 12-hour remote mediation on the Zoom platform.
Led by Mr. Catalano, a partner at the firm, Todd & Weld’s personal injury practice represents victims of catastrophic injuries in workplace accidents and other types of personal injury cases. The goal of the practice is to improve the lives of individuals and families affected by others' negligent conduct and to help alleviate the devastating physical, emotional, and financial burdens they suffer.