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Ironworker’s leg crushed by rolling steel beam – Claims jobsite wasn't adequately supervised; $420,000 settlement

The plaintiff was a 58-year-old male employed as an ironworker at a construction site. On the morning in question, his employer hoisted steel beams using a crane. Initially, the beams were hoisted one at a time. Later, however, the employer began “treeing” the iron beams, or lifting multiple iron beams simultaneously.

In the “treeing” process, each steel beam is connected to the crane’s hook using a different length of cable – short, medium and long. The first beam is selected from the layout area and connected to the crane hook with the shortest cable and hoisted into the air. The operator centers the first beam over the second, then centers both over the third beam. Once the third beam is connected to the crane hook, all three beams are hoisted to their appropriate location.

The first beam was connected to the crane hook and hoisted into the air. It was then centered over the second beam to be connected. While the plaintiff was connecting the second beam onto the crane’s hook, movement of the first beam caused tension on the second line, resulting in the medium length line going taut. That pulled the second beam, causing it to roll over onto the plaintiff’s left leg.

The plaintiff was left with a moderate limp and loss of function. The injury required a rod to be inserted in the left tibial intramedullary. His medical providers indicated that his injury permanently disabled him from performing his duties as an ironworker.

Plaintiff’s counsel filed a claim against the prime contractor, alleging that the tag lines, which are used to stabilize the beams, were of an inadequate length. He also alleged that the general contractor/prime contractor failed to perform jobsite inspections and job hazard analysis, and had the defendant adequately supervised and/or inspected the jobsite it would have recognized that “treeing” the iron without sufficient tag lines was not safe.

The defendant’s position was that the means and methods of erecting the iron was solely the responsibility of the plaintiff’s employer and that each ironworker had the ability to stop working if he felt the job was dangerous.

The defendant was prepared to present evidence that it was and is an acceptable practice to lift multiple pieces of iron at the same time.

The workers’ compensation settled for $155,000, while the third-party case settled for $265,000, with a substantial reduction in the workers’ comp lien.

Type of action: Negligence & tort

Injuries alleged: Left leg crush injury

Name of case: Withheld

Name of mediator: Brian Mone

Amount of settlement: $420,000

Attorney: Brian C. Dever, Keches Law Group, Taunton (for the plaintiff

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