A Chicago-area man was severely injured while working as an elevator mechanic at a construction site located in the downtown Chicago loop in the early Fall of 2008. Recently, the man’s lawyers settled the case for $1.8 million dollars. On September 5th, 2008, the Plaintiff was working inside an elevator shaft located on the 14th floor of the site, when a piece of metal stair rail, weighing approximately 85 pounds, fell from several floors above and struck the Plaintiff’s head and neck. Although the Plaintiff was wearing his hard hat, the impact caused him to suffer a traumatic brain injury and multiple cervical and thoracic fractures.
The Plaintiff was represented by Devon C. Bruce of Power Rogers, and Bruce filed a complaint against the general contractor and a number of subcontractors on the construction site, alleging that the Defendants were negligent in abandoning the piece of stair rail that ultimately struck the Plaintiff. The stair rail remained on the 30th floor for weeks before is fell through the elevator shaft. Industry custom and practice, as well as OSHA regulations regarding good housekeeping principles, require that this abandoned stair rail should have been removed from the construction site long before it injured the Plaintiff.
Additionally, the Plaintiff alleged that the protective barriers around the elevator shaft were inadequate and in violation of OSHA regulations. Specifically, the Defendant chose to use netting instead of a solid wooden barrier. Not only was the netting itself a violation of OSHA standards, but the netting was also inadequately affixed to the elevator shaft.
The complaint included res ipsa loquitur counts against the Defendants based on the fact that the Defendants were 1) in control of the construction site, the barriers around the shaft and the abandoned stair rail, and 2) that absent negligence a stair rail is not caused to fall down an elevator shaft.
Mr. Bruce commented, “This case involved clear acts of negligence. Had OSHA standards been followed, the metal rail would not have been permitted to remain in the construction area in the first place and the elevator shaft would have been properly protected. We were happy to come to a settlement agreement that would compensate the Plaintiff for all the medical care, pain and suffering he has had to endure.”