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Electrician sustained brain injury in fall from aerial lift

Amount:

$13,087,019.06

Type:

Verdict-Plaintiff

State:

Texas

Venue:

Hidalgo County

Court:

Hidalgo County District Court, 389th

Injury Type(s):

hip-fracture; hip back-fracture(fracture, L3); back(fracture, L3) back-fracture(fracture, L3); vertebra(fracture, L3) brain-traumatic brain injury surgeries/treatment-internal fixation mental/psychological-cognition(memory, impairment); impairment(memory, impairment)

Case Type:

Worker/Workplace Negligence - Slips, Trips & Falls - Slips, Trips & Falls, Fall from Height

Case Name:

Carlos Rosales individually and Rosa Mejia as next friend of Carlos Rosales Jr. v. 4 Front Engineered Solutions Inc. and Francisco Reyes, No. C-0546-12-H

Date:

August 23, 2013

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Rosa Mejia , 

Carlos Rosales (Male, 33 Years), 

Carlos Rosales Jr. (Male, 13 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Jody R. Mask; Garcia & Karam; McAllen, TX, for Rosa Mejia, Carlos Rosales, Carlos Rosales Jr. ■ Ricardo A Garcia; Garcia & Karaam; McAllen, TX, for Rosa Mejia, Carlos Rosales, Carlos Rosales Jr.

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Ray Fulp; III; Orthopedics; Harlingen, TX called by Jody R. Mask, Ricardo A Garcia ■ Donna Johnson; Vocational Rehabilitation; Corpus Christi, TX called by Jody R. Mask, Ricardo A Garcia ■ Jeremy Speer; Employee Safety; Los Angeles, CA called by Jody R. Mask, Ricardo A Garcia ■ Gilbert Martinez; M.D.; Neurology; San Antonio, TX called by Jody R. Mask, Ricardo A Garcia

Defendant(s):

Francisco Reyes, 

4 Front Engineered Solutions Inc.

Defense Attorney(s):

Ricardo D. Villanueva; Thornton, Biechlin, Segrato, Reynolds & Guerra, L.C.; McAllen, TX, for 4 Front Engineered Solutions Inc. ■ Bertha Nelda Barba; Law Office of Robert Salazar; McAllen, TX, for Francisco Reyes ■ Robert Salazar; Law Office of Robert Salazar; McAllen, TX, for Francisco Reyes ■ Daniel J. La Fave; Whyte Hirchboeck Dudek; Milwaukee, WI, for 4 Front Engineered Solutions Inc.

Defendent Expert(s):

Jerry Purswell; Employee Safety; Colorado Springs, CO called by Ricardo D. Villanueva, Bertha Nelda Barba, Robert Salazar, Daniel J. La Fave

Insurer(s):

ACE Group 4 Front Engineered Solutions Inc. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. 4 Front Engineered Solutions Inc.

Facts:

On Jan. 18, 2012, plaintiff Carlos Rosales, 33, an electrician, was employed as an independent contractor by Francisco Reyes, who was contracted by 4 Front Engineered Solutions to repair a lighted sign on the side of the company's Pharr warehouse. Rosales was working on the sign while on a man lift owned by 4 Front and operated by Reyes. The lift fell over, causing Rosales to fall more than 20 feet to the ground and sustain multiple injuries. Rosales, and the mother of his 13-year-old son on his behalf, sued Reyes, claiming negligence and gross negligence, and 4 Front, claiming negligent entrustment and gross negligence. Plaintiff's counsel maintained that Reyes attempted to move the lift while the platform was elevated when it went off a sidewalk into a grassy area, causing the wheels to sink and the lift to tip. The plaintiff's industrial safety expert testified that moving the lift with the platform elevated and occupied was unsafe and against standard industry practices. 4 Front was negligent in allowing Reyes to operate the lift, as the 4 Front employees who did so were aware Reyes had no training in its operation, counsel argued. Company personnel should have supervised Reyes and knew or should have known he was operating the lift unsafely, arguing surveillance camera footage showed a warehouse supervisor in the area where Reyes and Rosales were working just prior to the fall, counsel argued. Plaintiff's counsel argued that 4 Front had provided Rosales with a lift for the four previous jobs he performed for the company, establishing a practice of providing Reyes with equipment. The plaintiff's industrial safety expert testified that the type of lift provided was inappropriate and unsafe for outdoor use, and a more stable lift should have been provided. Counsel for Reyes argued that 4 Front had established a practice of providing Reyes with lift equipment, and that 4 Front was solely liable for providing Reyes with an inappropriate lift with the knowledge he did not have training in its operation. Counsel for 4 Front argued that the company had full immunity under Texas law, as it did not control the details of Reyes' or Rosales' work and was unaware of Reyes' unsafe operation of the lift. Counsel for 4 Front argued that Reyes' negligent operation of the lift was the sole proximate cause of the injuries. Counsel for 4 Front maintained that Reyes had told the warehouse manager he was trained and qualified to use the lift. 4 Front's industrial safety expert testified that the lift was appropriate and safe for the use it was put to. Counsel for both Reyes and 4 Front argued that Rosales bore comparative liability for the fall. Defense counsel argued that Reyes was a licensed electrician and under Texas regulation non-licensed individuals are not allowed to dictate an electrician's choice of equipment. Defense counsel argued that Rosales bore comparative liability for the fall.

Injury:

Rosales was transported by ambulance to the emergency room. He sustained fractures to his right hip and non-dominant left shoulder, a fracture at L3 and a complex mild traumatic brain injury. Rosales was hospitalized for two weeks, and underwent an additional month of at-home care. He underwent internal fixation of his hip and shoulder fractures. The fixation of the shoulder fracture required revision due to an infection. The parties stipulated to $166,019.06 in past medical expenses. Rosales' treating orthopedist testified that he will require shoulder replacement surgery. The plaintiff's neurological expert testified that the brain injury has resulted in short-term memory deficits. The plaintiff was bedridden for a month. He claimed he has been unable to return to work, and the plaintiff's orthopedist and vocational rehabilitation expert testified that he will be unable to engage in any kind of manual labor. The plaintiff claimed permanent scars from the internal fixation surgery. Rosales sought an unspecified amount for past and future pain and suffering, physical impairment, disfigurement, medical expenses, lost income, and exemplary damages as well as an unspecified amount for past and future loss of parental consortium for his son.

Result:

The jury found 4 Front 75 percent liable, Reyes 15 percent liable and Rosales 10 percent liable. The plaintiffs were awarded $13,0870,19.06, reduced to $11,778,317.15 for comparative liability.

Carlos Rosales$166,019 Personal Injury: Past Medical Cost$500,000 Personal Injury: Future Medical Cost$2,000,000 Personal Injury: Past Physical Impairment$2,000,000 Personal Injury: Future Physical Impairment$25,000 Personal Injury: Past Lost Earnings Capability$496,000 Personal Injury: FutureLostEarningsCapability$1,500,000 Personal Injury: Past Pain And Suffering$1,000,000 Personal Injury: Future Pain And Suffering$250,000 Personal Injury: Future Disfigurement$5,000,000 Personal Injury: exemplary damagesCarlos Rosales Jr.$100,000 Wrongful Death: Past Lost Of Consortium$50,000 Wrongful Death: Future Lost Of Consortium

Actual Award:

$11778317.15

Trial Information:

Judge:

Letty Lopez

Demand:

$2,250,000

Offer:

$1,000,000

Trial Length:

5  days

Trial Deliberations:

3  hours