Industrial accident | Wrongful death – $5.5M

Location: Confidential
Settlement: $5.5 M

This wrongful death action arises out of an industrial incident that occurred on August 17, 2017.  At the time of the incident, the decedent was working as an independent owner/operator of a logging truck and was delivering a load of timber to a mill.  When he arrived, he was instructed to park near a crane so that logs could be removed from his trailer.  He was also instructed to get out of the tractor, put on a safety vest and hard hat, and to step inside a yellow steel safety cage located nearby.  This was done for his protection in the event that a log was dropped as they were unloaded from the trailer.

The crane operator was able to remove the first “bite” of logs from the trailer without incident.  As he prepared to remove the second bite of logs, the trolley of the crane “trolleyed out” causing the grapple to swing wide and hit the shelter, knocking it over and on top of the decedent’s legs.  Ultimately, the cage was removed, and the decedent was transported emergently by rescue squad to a Level I Trauma Center for treatment.

The decedent sustained an open Grade 3B right tibia fracture, a proximal right fibula fracture, and anterior soft tissue degloving injuries with significant contamination and metal debris inside the wound.  In addition, he suffered compartment syndrome in his left leg, and a significant open wound to his right arm.  He was taken emergently to surgery, where he underwent a four-compartment fasciotomy on his left leg and an open reduction/external fixation surgery in an attempt to repair his right leg.  Wound vacs were applied to both legs as well.  Unfortunately, contamination from the job site made infection inevitable.  All in all, 14 different surgeries were performed in an attempt to irrigate and debride the wounds and to promote healing.  Those surgeries were not successful and his right leg was amputated below the knee.  The infection progressed and on September 21, 2017, the decision was made to remove his right leg above the knee.  His condition continued to worsen and on September 25, 2017, his family made the decision to withdraw life support so that he could die with dignity.  He passed away later that day with his family by his side.

The decedent was 63 years old.  Beneficiaries included his wife of 35 years and his two adult sons.

A lawsuit was filed asserting that the defendants were negligent in the manner in which the crane was operated, inspected and maintained.  Allegations of improper job site design (based on the proximity of the safety cage to the crane) and negligent training were also included.

The case resolved as a result of mediation.