$2,165,000 :: Karle v. Aerojet

SETTLEMENT : Fall through roof panel

On September 3, 1987, a foreman in his late 20s was working for a roofing subtractor on what he thought was a normal remodeling job on one of Aerojet’s large buildings. The building had an approximately 40-year-old galvanized metal roof that required replacement. As part of this process, the foreman and his team were spraying polyurethane foam material when his leg went through a defective roof panel and his knee smashed against a roofing beam.

The foreman was rushed to the emergency room where he was treated for a significant knee injury. He ultimately underwent nine surgeries, including a partial knee replacement and later a full knee replacement combined with more specific corrective procedures. Due to the physical nature of his work, such an injury was devastating and doctors recommended he plan for the possibility of future knee surgeries.

A History of Roof Accidents

While worker’s compensation paid for a portion of his medical bills, when the foreman discovered there was more to the incident, he hired Lawrence R. Booth of Booth & Koskoff to represent him in a construction negligence civil lawsuit. In the course of the suit, the Plaintiff discovered that approximately six months prior to the accident, another roofer had a similar accident along the roof’s defective panels. This incident led to a general shut down of the Aerojet panel and hired the Durmac Construction Company to replace all of the dangerous and defective roof panels. All, it seems, except for the one the Plaintiff walked on.

The Durmac Construction Company argued that the defective panel either wwas damaged by the Plaintiff’s employer during the course of their work or that they had not replaced the panel because of a negligent inspection on behalf of the architect and engineer hired by Aerojet to submit a project proposal. Durmac had also refused to participate during the selection of panels needing replacement and thus had not been responsible for the offending panel remaining there.

Record-Breaking Settlement

Booth & Koskoff ultimately negotiated a settlement with the defense parties. The General Contractor Durmac paid $1,500,000; Aerojet paid $650,000; and the structural engineers paid $15,000. The total, $2,165,000 well exceeded the previously reported record for U.S. knee injury settlements by over one million dollars.

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