Negligence claim against Olympic Steel, Inc. settled for $6 million on behalf of injured client

December 15, 2011: Courtney E. Morgan, Jr. settled a negligence claim against Olympic Steel, Inc. on behalf of a 40-year old truck driver from Alabama who was injured at their facility for $6 million. The case was in Wayne County, Michigan.

Plaintiff received serious crush injuries to his lower legs when a set of three steel coils, weighing a total of about 10 tons, tipped over on him on the deck of a flatbed trailer during the loading of the coils on the trailer by the Defendant.

The keys to winning were careful preparation for numerous fact witness depositions, resulting in several key admissions; extensive legal research and preparation to fight defendants’ motions to have the case dismissed; hiring the right experts to establish liability; and thoroughly documenting our client’s damages.

Plaintiff successfully advanced several theories of negligence. First, that the coils should simply have been laid flat, pancake style, rather than on their rolling side, as Plaintiff had requested, to eliminate the risk of tip-over. Discovery revealed the brakes on the crane being used to load the coils were in serious need of repair, as reported for at least two months before the accident by Defendant’s own safety manager. Plaintiff alleged this problem contributed to the tip-over, because the crane C-hook appeared to bump the coil package just before it tipped over. 

Plaintiff also learned that the banding tools used to band the coils together had failed safety tests for several months before the accident, but nevertheless had been returned to service by the plant safety director. Plaintiff testified that he heard the distinct sound of bands breaking immediately before being struck. The actual broken bands were discarded by the Defendant during its investigation of the incident. Lastly, Plaintiff learned that Defendant’s own employees had complained to management on several occasions that the crane operator failed to operate the crane safely, endangering his own co-employees’ lives and limbs.

Our client’s injuries required a below-the-knee amputation of his right leg. His left leg was severely crushed, but did not require amputation. Plaintiff is now unable to work as a truck driver. He suffered a substantial amount of lost wages, medical expenses, life care needs, pain and suffering, and emotional trauma.

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