Examples of Actual Workplace Injury Cases Handled by the Rodgers Law Firm Have Resulted in Favorable Recoveries for Ben’s Clients

DIY Chain Store Worker Blinded in Right Eye – Violation of OSHA Rules

Fort Worth, Texas

Our client was employed as a plumbing department specialist in a national do-it-yourself store with locations all over the U.S. In most company stores, PVC pipe was stored in a horizontal position by placing the pipe on top of brackets that were set into the storage bin walls. In his store, the pipe was stored upright, and bungee cords with u-shaped hooks on the ends were used to keep the pipes together to prevent them from falling over by hooking the ends of the bungee cords over metal rods stuck into the pipe bin walls. OSHA regulations require that every employer must conduct a hazard survey to determine what hazards employees are subject to in that employer’s workplace. The employer must then determine what protective equipment each employee must use to protect against injury from that particular hazard and require that each employee actually use the protective equipment.

It had been known since at least the early 1990’s that bungee cords are a known hazard for causing eye injuries. Before our client’s injury, this particular employer had been sued three times by customers who had been injured by bungee cords striking their eyes.

OSHA studies made available to employers seven years before our client’s eye injury stated that “a significant portion of all workplace injuries involved workers being struck in the eyes by foreign objects.”

Our client’s employer did not require that workers using bungee cords wear eye protection, as required by OSHA safety regulations.

Discovery after suit was filed showed that our client’s employer did not begin training employees on the requirements of OSHA safety regulations until one year after our client was injured.

One workday the PVC pipe inventory needed to be restocked, so our client and another employee were assigned the task of unhooking the bungee cords, adding more pvc pipe to each vertical bundle, and then re-hooking the bungee cords.

The coworker did not secure one end of a bungee cord properly just moments before the client came near that particular PVC bundle. The hook came loose, and the cord snapped back toward the client’s face. The hook struck his right eye and seriously injured it to the point that he was later determine to be legally blind in that eye.

Our eye expert, a neuro-opthalmologist, testified that the bungee cord blow caused four injuries to the right eye: (1) damage to the optic nerve, (2) loss of central vision in the eye, (3) loss of color sensation and (4) marked loss of brightness sensation. These injuries made him legally blind.

As an aid to the jury, the expert had a pair of goggles made that duplicated the loss of vision – anyone who put the goggles on experienced the same vision loss in the right eye that our client had.

Worker Knocked Out of Cherry Picker by Electrified Overhead Crane – Electric Shock & Other Traumatic Injuries

Fort Worth, Texas

Our client was skilled in installing telephone cable and wiring. His company was hired by a steel products company to install telephone cable between a warehouse and an outside building on the steel company’s premises. The work was to be performed during normal working hours while the steel company’s employees were also actively working on the premises and using an overhead crane to move very heavy steel products from an outside storage area to the inside of the warehouse.

The overhead crane was attached to and ran on a single metal rail (monorail) 1/16 of a mile in length and positioned 30 feet above ground. High voltage electricity was used to move the crane along the monorail, 440 volt, 3 phase, 60 amp current. The crane was started and stopped by a hand-held mobile remote control device controlled by the steel company employee assigned to operate the crane.

The crane was constructed so that, once it was activated by the operator, it would automatically move along the full length of the monorail until the operator stopped it with the hand held remote control. The operator could easily, quickly and safely stop the crane at any location on the rail, inside or outside of the warehouse, by using the controls on the hand held remote.

To install the cabling our client had to work in a basket attached to what is commonly termed a “cherry picker” at a height of 30 feet above ground and directly in the fixed rail path of the overhead crane.

Before our client entered the cherry picker basket to begin installing the cabling, he asked the operator of the crane to stop the crane’s movement during the wiring process. The operator told him that a “lock down” of the overhead crane would be done to prevent it from moving. Relying on this promise, our client was hoisted in the air and began working on the wiring from within the basket of the cherry picker.

The operator failed to “lock down” the crane as promised. As our client was installing the telephone cable, the crane came from outside into the warehouse and began approaching the cherry picker. The noise inside the warehouse coming from the steel processing equipment was so loud that the employees inside the warehouse could not hear our client’s cries to stop the crane.

The crane struck the cherry picker basket, causing the basket to tip over. Plaintiff, believing he would be spilled out of the basked and fall onto the concrete floor 30 feet below, jumped from the basket onto the crane to avoid falling; however, the electrical voltage supplying the crane with power shocked him and knocked him back into the cherry picker basket. In this process he sustained serious and permanent injuries, with medical bills totaling $45,000.

Fuel Truck Driver Injured by Fuel Storage Tank High Pressure Explosion – Violation of OSHA Regulations

Ennis, Texas

Our client was employed as a fuel tank truck driver for a fuel company. He was scheduled to make a delivery of fuel to an asphalt plant that had a 5,000 gallon above-ground storage tank approximately 25 feet long that was used to supply fuel to the asphalt burner and to refuel plant trucks.

The storage tank was subject to OSHA regulations that required that the storage tank be equipped with a relief valve which directed all vapors to an incinerator, that the tank owner ensure that the storage tank was adequately vented to prevent development of pressure, as a result of the fuel filling process, from exceeding the design pressure of the tank, and that the tank owner take steps to prevent or minimize the consequences of catastrophic releases of explosive chemicals.

American Petroleum Institute (“API”) safety standards required pressure and vacuum-relieving devices be placed on the storage tank, and that the storage tank must be regularly inspected by an “authorized inspector,” one that holds an API certification as an inspector.

The owner of the asphalt plant ignored all of these regulations and safety standards for years. The client climbed on top of the storage tank and began the process of pumping 5,000 gallons of fuel into the storage tank through a fill pipe on top of the storage tank. Without his knowledge, pressure began building inside the storage tank while the fuel was being pumped inside it.

As he was nearing completion of the fuel delivery, suddenly and without warning the excess pressure that had built-up in the tank burst out of the fill pipe. The escaping high pressure air blast threw him up into the air and off the top of the storage tank, causing him to fall 10 to 12 feet to the ground at a place 12-15 feet away from the storage tank.

The explosion severely injured his neck and back. His injuries included herniated discs at C5-6, C6-7, L4-5, and L5-S1.

On-the-Job Slip and Fall at Mall Department Store

Irving, Texas

The client, a manager for a nationally known department store chain located in a mall in Irving, Texas, slipped on a cloudy liquid substance while opening the store doors for business the morning after the weekly night-time floor cleaning by a janitorial service company.

Chemical analysis of the liquid residue on her clothing by an expert chemist given the clothing shortly after the accident proved that the liquid residue on the clothing matched the chemical properties of the floor cleaning solution regularly used by store janitorial service company. We obtained the OSHA-required Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the floor cleaning solution that was obtained from the janitorial service company after suit was filed. The MSDS chemical composition listing matched the chemical properties of the cleaning solution sample given to our expert by the defendant.

This expert testing also negated the defense by the janitorial service company that the liquid on the floor was water or another drinkable liquid, such as a milk shake, that was spilled by an unknown store employee or customer after the cleaning crew left the premises. Lab tests showed that the ph value of the liquid residue on the clothing was so high it would have harmed anyone who attempted to drink it, therefore it could not have been a drinkable liquid dropped by another employee or a customer. The ph value was a number that matched the ph number of the defendant’s floor cleaning solution.

The client’s injuries required back surgery and a prolonged absence from work.

Construction Worker Hit by Falling Flashlight – Violation of OSHA Regulations – Traumatic Brain Injury

Midlothian, Texas

Our client, a 32 year-old high-rise iron worker and a member of a steelworkers union, was employed by a subcontractor on a power plant construction site. He was injured while working inside a tall concrete and steel smokestack tower. His job as a steel worker required good balance, climbing, squatting, lifting, and carrying abilities and the ability to work at heights. He was wearing a hard hat but his job required that he frequently bend over at the waist and look down, a position that exposed the back of his head and neck to unprotected blows from above.

Unknown to him, an engineer employed by the general contractor was working 30 feet above him inspecting some completed work. The engineer was carrying a large flashlight that was not properly secured to his belt. The flashlight suddenly fell without warning and struck our client at the base of the skull. He was knocked unconscious for 15 minutes and transported by ambulance to the hospital.

The brain injury caused the following mental and physical conditions:

  1. He began having post-trauma epileptic seizures – the seizures came on unexpectedly, were highly embarrassing, and precluded him from driving a car.
  2. He became dizzy when he moved – movement during walking affected his gait and he had to concentrate on each step, he had to move slowly when getting into and out of chairs, he could not use ladders for such tasks as changing light bulbs and hanging tree lights, and using elevators and climbing stairs made him lightheaded.
  3. He became very forgetful – he could not remember simple things such as where the car was parked, driving routes to familiar places, the day of the week, and family birthdays.
  4. Complex information had to be given to him a little bit at a time.
  5. He had a hard time concentrating, and he was unable to do more than one thing at a time.
  6. His head shook due to the medication he had to take.
  7. He had difficulty expressing ideas because he could not find the right words to say.
  8. He had to depend on his wife to make all decisions requiring careful thought and choosing between alternatives.
  9. He suffered from ongoing depression, anger, frustration, anxiety and irritability.

Expert engineering testimony stated that the force of the flashlight blow to his head depended on the weight of the flashlight and the speed it was falling when it hit him.

The flashlight weighed 36 ounces – heavier than a typical major league baseball bat that weighs 34 ounces.

The flashlight’s falling speed would depend on the length of time it took for the flashlight to fall, and could be calculated as follows:

Fall time Flashlight Speed on Impact
1.0 second 22 mph
1.5 seconds 33 mph
2.0 seconds 44 mph
3.0 seconds 66 mph

By comparison, Barry Bond’s bat has been calculated as traveling at 70 mph when he hits a home run.
Five years before the accident OSHA published a study that said a significant portion of all worker injuries involved workers being struck on the head by foreign objects, and noted that in one of the years studied there were 70,000 head and face injuries.

Pretrial discovery revealed that the general contractor was aware that there were several incidents of falling objects on the jobsite before our client was injured.

Auto Mechanic Injured On-The-Job By Improperly Maintained Car Lift – Subdural Hematoma, Traumatic Brain Injury & Hearing Loss

Fort Worth, Texas

Our client was working as a car mechanic in a garage that used hydraulic car lifts to raise the underside of a car being worked on by a mechanic above the mechanic’s head so that the mechanic could stand underneath the car when the lift was high enough. Because the garage owner did not properly inspect the lifts for safety, over time one of the lifts became unsafe.

One day while our client was standing underneath a car to inspect it for problems, the lift lost enough hydraulic pressure to allow the lift and car to drop several feet and strike our client on the head.

He was taken by ambulance to the hospital and released after ER examination. One weekend later while fishing off a bridge, he suddenly blacked out and fell off the bridge. He was hospitalized and testing revealed he had a subdural hematoma, a form of traumatic brain injury in which blood collects in the brain.

The bleeding in the brain caused an increase in pressure within the skull, which can cause compression of and damage to delicate brain tissue. Acute subdural hematoma has a high mortality rate and is a severe medical emergency.

The client’s bleeding was so slow that it took a week for the intracranial pressure to build up in the brain to the point he lost consciousness. Emergency brain surgery was necessary to repair the subdural hematoma. His injuries also included traumatic brain injury and hearing loss.

On-The-Job Injury to Sheet Metal Press Operator – Employer Not a Subscriber to Texas Workers’ Compensation – Mandatory Arbitration Clause

Dallas, Texas

Our client, of slight build and weighing 145 pounds, operated a large sheet metal press. His employer did not subscribe to Texas Workers’ Compensation Insurance. Prior to employment, his employer required him to sign an employment contract that, should he later be injured on the job, required him to arbitrate the claim, which meant he could not have a jury hear his case.

The final stage of press operation required him to grab each sheet metal piece coming out of the press with both hands (each sheet metal piece weighed 100 pounds), pull it from the press toward him, twist at the waist, and then push it away from him onto a large, rectangular, four-legged table stationed beside the press. The table had four legs and each leg had a wheel on the bottom to allow the table to be rolled from one press to another. Once in position, the table was held in place by a manual brake on the bottom of each table leg. The four brakes were locked into place by stepping on a lever on each brake that, when stepped on and pushed downward, pressed a brake pad against the wheel to lock the wheel in place and keep it from turning.

Over time the brake pads were worn down to the point that the pads were too thin to hold the wheels in place. The table brakes finally gave way, causing the table to suddenly move while our client was pulling the sheet metal toward him. He was seriously injured, both shoulders were dislocated, and the rotator cuffs were torn, trying to keep the 100 pound sheet of metal with sharp edges away from his stomach and onto the table.

His injured shoulders required multiple operations and he could no longer perform any type of physical labor requiring strength in his shoulders. He ultimately went through a year-long retraining program for disabled workers.

After suit was filed, the employer enforced the mandatory arbitration clause and the case was moved to arbitration with the American Arbitration Association. Our safety expert, a retired OSHA regional director, inspected the plant and equipment. He was surprised to find that the employer had no safety program to inspect the plant machinery for worn safety parts and had no manager with any safety training.

The case settled at mediation before the arbitration trial was held.

Heavy Equipment Mechanic in Hand Crush Accident – Violation of OSHA and MSHA Safety Regulations

Mineral Wells, Texas

Our client, a heavy equipment mechanic, was employed by a mining company that owned and operated an open pit mine that mined stone for commercial and residential construction projects. The mine was subject to both Occupational Safety and Health Act (“OSHA”) and Mining Safety and Health Act (“MSHA”) safety regulations. His employer was not a subscriber to Texas Workers’ Compensation Insurance.

He was directed by his supervisor to repair a track roller on one of the two tracks on a Caterpillar 235 Excavator, a very large and very heavy earth mover. The Excavator had a large “bucket” that was used to scoop stone or earth from the ground, lift the load into the air, and then drop the load into a dump truck. The two tracks on a Caterpillar Excavator are similar in size and operation to the two tracks on an army tank.

He asked to use a nearby forklift to insert the “forks” of the forklift under the track and lift the track in the air. Once in the air, the forks could be locked in place and he could then safely put his hands between the track and the rollers that caused the track to move. This request was refused because the forklift was being used in mining operations and it would cost the mine too much money in lost profits to take it out of operation for the time necessary to repair the roller – two hours or more.

He was told to hook a chain on the Caterpillar track and attach the other end of the chain to the Caterpillar bucket and use the bucket to hoist the track in the air and keep it there while he was working on the track roller. This was not a safe way to do the job – he did not need to use a chain if he used the forklift, and chains can slip without warning. There were no jacks or blocks available to support the track if the chain slipped.

He did what he was told to do. To test the positioning of the chain, he waited at least one hour after the track was lifted into the air before he did any more work on the track. Then what he feared happened, the chain slipped without warning and the track fell, crushing his left hand, his dominant hand because he was left-handed. The injury caused him to lose much of the use of his hand.

OSHA and MSHA safety experts testified that numerous mandatory safety regulations had been violated and that the mine had a history of repeatedly violating safety regulations. There was also evidence that safety records had been falsified.