Seven-Figure Settlement Secured in Chicago Workplace Accident

Langdon & Emison obtained a seven-figure settlement in Cook County, Ill., this month on behalf of a 28-year old man’s family after he suffered a fatal injury in an industrial accident. The decedent was survived by his parents, brother and sister. Settlement was reached with the equipment manufacturer, the owner of the premises and the decedent’s employer. Firm attorneys Bob Langdon and David Brose served as the lead attorneys in this successful representation.

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The firm client was working as a service technician for one of the defendants in the lawsuit, Kasto, Inc. On December 12, 2008, he and co-workers were performing preventative maintenance and repair work on “Bay 9,” a steel storage and retrieval system (Uni-Compact ASRS (Automatic Storage and Retrieval System) at a facility owned by Earle M. Jorgensen Company (also a defendant) located in Schaumburg, Ill., outside of Chicago. This steel storage and retrieval system was designed, manufactured and installed by Kasto Maschinebau GMBH & CO., KG, and another defendant. Bay 9 consists of steel storage systems along two aisles, with each aisle containing a separate gantry crane and 2 processing stations.

The storage systems hold “cassettes,” which in turn contain various types of steel. When a customer order is placed, the gantry crane automatically selects the appropriate cassette from the storage system and transports the cassette to the front of Bay 9 to a “station” located at the front of the aisle where the metal is bent, cut or otherwise processed to meet the customer’s specifications. After entering Bay 9, Brian returned to a work station to further inspect an area where he had cut and removed a bar earlier that day. A co-worker testified that he then saw a shadow which he realized was a cassette that was being placed into Station 2 by the crane in aisle 2 (the aisle across the storage system from where they were located). He explained that he reacted fast by jumping out of the way and yelling for Brian to get out of the way, but Brian’s chin was caught by the top of the leading edge of a cassette, while at the same time, the back of his head was pinned against an I-beam.

Brian’s head was pushed down towards his neck as a result of this impact, and he remained pinned until additional employees of defendant Kasto, Inc. and Earle M. Jorgensen arrived to help pry back the cassette a matter of inches so as to release Brian’s head. During transport to the emergency medical center, the paramedics performed CPR until Brian was intubated and his heart rhythm was paced, but Brian’s health care providers at Alexian Brothers Medical Center found that he had suffered a massive head trauma as a result of this incident. He was pronounced dead at 10:41 a.m.

The firm’s legal team was able to evince that defendants Kasto, Inc. and Kasto Maschinenbau GMBH & Co. KG had caused or contributed to cause the death of Brian through the defective, negligent and unreasonably dangerous design, manufacture and/or installation of “Bay 9.” In spite of the young man’s lack of a family or others who were depending on him financially, Langdon & Emison was able to recover a seven-figure settlement for the family of the deceased. The firm was able to expose the defects in the design of Bay 9 that allowed a person to enter one aisle without locking down and shutting out the operations of the crane in another aisle. The firm also was able to show a lack of proper lockout/tagout procedures and electric cut-offs for Bay 9, as well as failing to provide reasonable and adequate warnings of the dangers that Bay 9 presented, as well as necessary safety protection devices.

As attorneys experienced in these types of suits, David and Bob were also able to uncover the fact that a critical safety device was never made known to Brian or his co-workers prior to this tragic incident. It was not until the following day that his co-workers were even shown the emergency remote and trained on its use and procedures, including that they were to have it on your person at any time someone enters an aisle of Bay 9.

“No verdict or settlement is going to bring this family his 28-year old son back,” said Bob, who was honored by Missouri Lawyers Weekly as a “Legal Champion” for the state of Missouri for his 2010 advocacy for consumer safety in his practice. “But this is another example of the civil justice system ensuring that some of that family’s loss is recovered, and maybe that companies will think more about the safety of their own employees going forward.”