Carpenter Recovers For Leg Injury After Performing Manual Lift In Absence Of Cranes ($2 Million)

A Local 916 Union Carpenter was offered a $2 million settlement shortly after opening statements during a jury trial involving an on-the-job injury that left his leg fractured in three places. The defendant, Burnside Construction, made no settlement offer prior to trial but agreed to the recovery amount as the trial progressed.

The Case

Burnside Construction was the general contractor for the River Mills Crossing project.  The carpenter’s employer, Thiel, was lifting balloon walls manually rather than through the use of a crane.

In-Depth Look

The defendant maintained that carpenters routinely erect balloon walls manually and that some painters who were assisting in the lift actually dropped the wall. Furthermore, the defendant claimed that the Plaintiff’s knee and foot injuries were not related to the accident since the fractures were only to his leg.

Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates’ lead trial team, Clifford Horwitz and Jay Luchsinger, demonstrated that OSHA had records of other accidents wherein carpenters were unable to lift balloon walls, and that other carpentry contractors used cranes. The two partners also demonstrated that OSHA recently recommended that cranes be used and that the Residential Construction Employer’s Counsel (RCEC) equally recommended the use of cranes for erecting balloon walls. In fact, the RCEC had been making this recommendation since 1995.

“While carpenters have manually erected balloon walls in the past, these walls are becoming increasingly heavier, posing a greater risk of serious injury to workers. The wall, in this case, weighed some two thousand pounds,” Clifford Horwitz explained.

Horwitz also demonstrated that various companies marketed products to protect carpenters from the risk of manually erecting balloon walls and alleged that the construction manager, Burnside Construction, knew that the men were manually erecting the walls and did not take measures to prevent it.

“If general contractors don’t require that cranes be utilized, more carpenters will be permanently injured because of an inability to always safely control them,” Cliff said.

According to Jay Luchsinger, the victory is two-fold. “Our client can now begin to rebuild his life, knowing that perhaps his struggle for justice will help to protect other carpenters from serious injuries through the use of cranes.”