On February 22, 2008, a Chicago-area man was injured when his legs were crushed in a paper baler, a massive piece of industrial equipment used to compact large quantities of paper. The injury occurred when the Plaintiff, who was employed by a cleaning company as a janitor, recognized that the baler was jammed and entered a chute, which fed the baler from above, in order to clear the jam. After he cleared the jam, the Plaintiff fell into the baler. There was nothing preventing the Plaintiff’s fall, such as lanyards and harnesses. In addition, no training regarding OSHA lockout procedures had been provided. After the Plaintiff fell, the baler’s ram crushed his legs.
Later that year, Joseph A. Power, Jr. and Brian LaCien of the Chicago personal injury law firm of Power Rogers filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Plaintiff seeking compensation for his catastrophic injuries. The suit was filed against both the factory owner and operator. In turn, the Defendants brought a third party complaint against the cleaning company that employed the Plaintiff.
The Plaintiff’s complaint alleged that Defendants violated OSHA and applicable safety standards by failing to: (1) ensure that the Plaintiff was properly trained on how to safely clear paper jams; (2) ensure that the Plaintiff had available and utilized fall protection; (3) ensure that lockout was followed while the machine was being worked on and/or when a person is in the chute/; (4) provide a hazard assessment; and (5) ensure there were adequate warning signs and that the hatches be secured by locks so that only authorized personnel could enter the chute.
Defendants denied that they knew the Plaintiff or other cleaning company employees entered the chute to unclog paper at any time prior to and including the occurrence. They contended that the Plaintiff and the cleaning company, as the Plaintiff’s employer, were the entities liable for his injuries. However, Mr. Power and Mr. LaCien discovered evidence that individuals had entered the chute to clear paper jams in the past. The Defendants and Third Party Defendant received OSHA violations as a result of the incident.
On February 20, 2013, Mr. Power and Mr. LaCien settled with Defendants for $23,000,000.00 as compensation for the Plaintiff’s pain and suffering, disfigurement, past and future medical care, wage losses and all other available damages.