Stories

When Your Whole Life Caves In

"When my husband was buried alive, he came out a different man." That is how Harry's wife described what happened to Harry in the days and months that followed the collapse of the trench he was working in. Harry had grown from a gifted young athlete to a strong a dependable laborer, a loving family man and a good provider. He was beloved for his gift of gab.

When the walls of the trench fell in on him, he emerged a changed man. The gift of gab was silenced and his spirit dampened. The physical gifts that he had relied on all his life were taken away. He would eventually walk with a cane. He even had to learn how to read, write and speak again. The dependable provider became child-like and needed to be provided for.

Jon Warren assembled a team of engineers and construction experts to prove that the trench was not properly shored and secured. But the contractor who was running the job site knew if they could place the blame on Harry's employer, they would not be held at fault. Worse yet, Harry would not be able to recover because his employer was legally immune and only responsible for paying Harry's workers' compensation benefits.

Jon engaged in extensive discovery, taking numerous depositions and sifting through thousands of pages of documents. Through these exhaustive efforts, he was able to argue that the contractor in control of the site violated OSHA standards and actually directed and controlled the part of the project involving the trench and the shoring.

The contractor also contested Harry's claims that he had suffered a devastating traumatic brain injury. They argued that Harry's intellect was limited even before the accident. Working with a medical team of specialists including a neurologist, a rehab doctor, a neuropsychologist and a nurse, Jon was able to present medical documentation substantiating the severity of Harry's brain injury.

But the battle was not yet won. The contractor's lawyers filed motions with the judge assigned to the case arguing that the case should never make it through the court room doors and the case should be dismissed. Relying on the information obtained in discovery and the team of engineers and construction experts, Jon successfully filed a response to the contractor's motion that convinced the judge a jury should decide the case.

Facing the possibility of having to explain its failures to a jury, the contractor agreed to a settlement in the millions of dollars. The money did not restore Harry to the man he was before, but it did allow him to once again provide for his family.

When Company Profits Trump Safety

Our client was injured while entering a hotel bath tub/shower. She slipped and fell seriously injuring her wrist, which had previously been operated upon. After extensive physical therapy and 3 surgeries, she was left with permanent loss of range of motion of the wrist.

Hotels have resisted industry standards that require safety features such as grab bars and non-slip tub surfaces in non-handicapped rooms. Experts have criticized existing standards as out of date and inadequate. But the hotel industry has resisted any new standards because of the cost of such simple safety measures.

The lack of industry standards presented an obstacle to proving that the hotel was at fault for our client's fall. The hotel argued that its tubs were in compliance with existing industry standards. They also argued that our client failed to take proper precautions when entering the tub.

After intensive investigation and discovery, however, Jonathan Warren learned that the hotel was aware its tubs were slippery when wet. It had applied slip resistant materials to the tub previously. But then the hotel failed to re-apply the materials in compliance with the product's standards and instructions. Through consultation with experts, Jonathan established that the failure to maintain the slip resistant surface the hotel previously installed was a substantial factor in causing our client's injury.

Faced with our firm's ability to prove that it knew of the danger of the slippery tubs but failed to properly maintain its efforts to correct the danger, the hotel settled for over $200,000.00 before trial. Hopefully it will re-think the cost of installing and properly maintaining simple safety features in the future.