A carpenter injured after he fell through an unsupported railing settled his lawsuit for $6.9 million with the construction site’s general contractor and a masonry contractor.
The various sides reached the deal Oct. 31, but they still await a dismissal in DuPage County Circuit Court, according to one of the plaintiff’s attorneys, Brian J. Lewis of Gibson Lewis in Waukegan.
Court records indicate the case is assigned to Circuit Judge Robert G. Kleeman.
The resolution is higher than any previously reported DuPage County work-injury settlement or verdict, according to John L. Kirkton, editor of Jury Verdict Reporter, a product of Law Bulletin Media.
In April 2016, Thomas “TJ” Callaghan was a carpenter for Woodmark Carpentry. He and his co-workers were tasked with installing safety barricades around the perimeter of a top-floor deck at a residential construction project in Hinsdale.
The barricade would allow construction workers to operate without ropes and harnesses.
During the project, defendant Moran Masonry’s brick masons removed part of the safety barricade to remove materials from the roof, according to court documents. When Moran’s foreman discovered the barricade had not been reinstalled, he instructed an employee to do so.
But that Moran employee did not replace one of the vertical posts that supported the horizontal rails, then improperly hammered in the nails — leaving the structure unsupported, court documents stated.
Two days later while working on the platform, Callaghan leaned against the railing. It collapsed and caused him to fall 30 feet to the ground. Callaghan suffered a near-complete tear through all the layers of his aorta, a lacerated spleen and liver, torn intestines, a shattered right elbow, a fractured right leg, broken ribs and two collapsed lungs, according to a firm issued news release.
He spent 42 days in the hospital and had 11 surgeries.
Callaghan filed a lawsuit against Moran Masonry and defendant general contractor Next Generation Development Co. LLC, alleging the general contractor, whose office trailer was on-site and its superintendent was on the roof everyday of the project, should have noticed Moran incorrectly reinstalled the safety barricade.
The suit also contended Moran did not warn other onsite workers that they had removed and replaced the safety barricade.
Lewis said the defendants asserted Callaghan should have noticed the safety barricade was not properly installed and they “pointed fingers” elsewhere.
Next Generation’s superintendent testified in a deposition that “safety only occupied 20% of his time,” Lewis said.
“This is a true example of a system failure,” he said. “When there’s no communication or when there are assumptions, the system falls apart and people get hurt.”
Callaghan was also represented by Scott B. Gibson of Gibson Lewis in Waukegan.
Moran Masonry was represented by Andrew C. Seiber and Anna Kazaz of SmithAmundsen LLC.
Next Generation was represented by C, Bradley Krapfl of Keis George LLP.
They did not return requests for comment.
The case in Illinois’ 18th Judicial Circuit Court is Thomas J. Callaghan v. Next Generation Development Co. LLC, et al., 16 L 377.