Union Carpenter Recovers After Fall From Ladder ($1.41 Million)

A Local 916 Union Carpenter recovered $1.41 million after suffering from a fracture to the bone at the base of his big toe. The injury resulted from a construction site accident.

The Case

A 41-year-old journeyman carpenter was placing a window in a cathedral type entryway of a newly constructed house. While placing shims under the window, the window shifted knocking the carpenter off balance. The carpenter fell 12 to 13 feet. The window slid down the ladder and cut through the carpenter’s work boot and top of his foot.

In-Depth Look

In 2005, the union carpenter was sent by his employer, FCJ Real Estate Development Co., Inc. to work for Republic Windows and Doors, a Chicago based company that went bankrupt in 2008.

Prior to the accident, the journeyman carpenter worked at various job and construction sites installing windows for Republic Windows and Doors. On this particular project, the carpenter was instructed to set windows in newly constructed homes; however, a home with a cathedral ceiling presented a safety hazard for the carpenter and other workers.

The manner in which fellow workers had been installing the windows was unsafe. They would carry the window up an extension ladder, and then set the window in the opening. A coworker on the outside of the house would help. In this particular incident, the coworker’s ladder on the outside of the house was propped against the window. When the union carpenter went to place the shims under the window, the window shifted in, knocking the carpenter from the ladder – causing him to fall 12 to 13 feet. The window slid down the ladder, ultimately cutting through the carpenter’s work boot and the top of his foot.

“Fellow workers had installed windows in this manner by carrying them up a ladder. There was no scaffolding on the jobs and the foreman stated there was not enough time to erect scaffolding,” said Jay Luchsinger, an attorney on the lead trial team at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates and former Local 1 Iron Worker. “They failed to even set up a Baker scaffold,” continued attorney Luchsinger.

As a result of the safety hazards created by Republic Windows and Doors, the union carpenter suffered a fractured fibular sesamoid with chronic inflammation and pulled muscles in his back.

The case provided a difficult obstacle – proving who was liable for the carpenter’s injuries. The carpenter worked for FCJ Real Estate Development Equipment Co., Inc. The general contractor on the construction site was the Kirk Corporation; however, the liability ultimately fell on Republic Windows and Doors.

“Three parts played a key role in proving the liability: the plaintiff’s employer, FCJ, was hired by Republic Windows and Doors; the foreman who oversaw the window installations worked for Republic Windows; and there was testimony that Republic Windows and Doors had a history of instructing workers to install windows this way on previous job-sites,” stated Clifford Horwitz, head of the lead trial team at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates.