$1,600,000 :: Gruenwald

SETTLEMENT : Two ironworkers fell approximately 17 feet

On March 3, 1986, two ironworkers, both in their late 20’s, were working for their employer, an independent contractor, on a larger construction job in Orange County. Their job at the worksite was to install large steel plates on one of the floors of the site’s multi-story building. During the course of this work, one of the plaintiffs used a crowbar to move a large stack of steel plates when the plates, on which the two men were standing, also moved and sent the ironworkers falling 17 feet to the ground below.

Injuries & the Peculiar Risk Doctrine

Both men suffered significant injuries in the fall and hired Lawrence R. Booth and Donald J. Beck of Booth & Koskoff to represent them in a lawsuit against the general contractor of the worksite. The primary Plaintiff and ironworker suffered serious injuries to his back and feet that required multiple surgeries and an extensive recovery period with lost wages. The secondary Plaintiff and ironworker sustained less severe injuries that also required surgery. His injuries were primarily located at his wrists and his recovery was reasonable and swift.

Koskoff and his team levied the lawsuit against the general contractor as they argued that the general contractor should have provided fall protection via cat lines. In general, when a general contractor hires an independent contractor to perform work and that independent contractor causes injuries to themselves or others during the course of that work, then it is the independent contractor alone who is responsible or liable for said injuries.

However, in California there is a Peculiar Risk Doctrine that puts responsibility on the general contractor or owner who hires an independent contractor to do work if and when that work is considered to be “inherently dangerous work.” So while the Defendant’s attorneys alleged the accident and resulting injuries were the sole fault and responsibility of the ironworkers and their employer, Booth & Koskoff contended the general contractors were responsible under this doctrine and ultimately succeeded.

The Settlement

Booth and his team secured a part cash and part structure settlement valued at approximately $1,250,000 for the primary Plaintiff. This was in addition to the $175,000 contributed by the Workers Compensation Carrier. The secondary Plaintiff received a settlement for $175,000 for his lesser injuries.

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