$1,320,000 Settlement – Construction Worker Injured When Structure Suddenly Collapses
Our client was working for a demolition company on the demolition of four massive, multistory boiler structures at the Hunter’s Point PG&E facility. As the workmen made cuts into the supporting columns to topple one of the structures, our client was told to move an excavator away from where the building would collapse. Well before the scheduled time for the collapse, the massive structure suddenly and unexpectantly collapsed while our client was in the fall zone.
When he heard the noise of the building beginning to collapse, our client attempted to jump off the excavator and escape, but was unable to do so before the top of the structure came down landing on him. He suffered a crush injury to his right thigh, head and body injuries and numerous cuts and lacerations. His close friend and fellow worker were killed when the building collapsed.
A number of controls on the method to be used for the demolition were imposed by PG&E and their general contractor. Explosives were not permitted, although that was the safest demolition method. Instead, the structures had to be demolished from “the top down” by cutting sections and lowering them to the ground. This method required destabilizing the structure at a time when workmen would still be in the dangerous area of the fall zone. The supporting columns were weakened by cutting, but the engineers miscalculated the weakening effect and the building suddenly collapsed prematurely trapping the workmen.
Our client was 51 years old and in good health before he was injured. His thigh was punctured by a large piece of falling metal exposing muscle tissue. He suffered post-traumatic stress and depression from witnessing his friend and co-worker die and from experiencing his own harrowing escape from certain death. He suffered a neck injury, required surgery for a herniated cervical disc with fusion by bone grafting and plating. He was subsequently diagnosed with bilateral shoulder rotator cuff tears requiring further surgeries. He was no longer employable and suffered a profound physical and emotional loss.
In 2011 the case was prepared for trial and settled shortly before the start of trial for $1,320,000 together with insurance coverage for his future medical treatment.