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$2.5 Million Dollar Settlement for Elevator Mechanic

Attorney Stephan D. Blandin

An Illinois elevator mechanic recovered a $2.5-million-dollar settlement in a construction negligence lawsuit, after a project manager ordered him to work in a crowded, dangerous area where he suffered a life-altering knee injury in 2008.

Chicago attorneys Stephan Blandin of Romanucci & Blandin, LLC and Sean C. Burke announced the settlement on Sept. 9. It is the second multi-million dollar settlement of a catastrophic work-injury lawsuit by the two attorneys.

A certified elevator mechanic, Brian delaTorre was working to install two elevators at the Village Commons commercial construction project in Lake Bluff, Illinois. On April 22, 2008, the project manager for the general contractor, DJW Ridgeway Building Consultants, Inc., ordered a change in the order of the work.

The bricklayers were moving their work to the front of the building which was the elevator mechanics’ only access to the work space. The project manager ordered delaTorre and his fellow elevator mechanic to stop work and transport all their necessary elevator materials through the front of the building while the bricklayers were also operating an eight-foot wide and 22,000-pound "lull" -- a boom forklift -- through in the same area.

Attorney Sean C. Burke

“The project manager’s order put the elevator mechanics at risk by causing them to face multiple safety hazards at the same time,” Blandin said. “As delaTorre carried a 20-foot long, 100-pound hydraulic pipe on his shoulder, he was forced to watch out for the driver helping him unload equipment from the delivery truck, his fellow elevator mechanic also hauling equipment, the lull driving nearby and the ruts that the lull was digging into the ground.”

With his attention divided, delaTorre stepped into the upward edge of one of the ruts, twisted his leg and tore the meniscus in his left knee.  DelaTorre underwent surgery to repair the meniscus and developed complex regional pain syndrome in the leg – for which he continues to receive treatment to this day.

Summary judgment reversed

Upon filing the construction negligence lawsuit, the trial court originally dismissed the case by granting summary judgment in favor of the defense, ruling that the general contractor was not responsible for ruts in the ground, which were an open and obvious condition. Appellate attorney Michael Rathsack won a reversal of the summary judgment ruling and the parties were able to reach a $2.545-million-dollar settlement before trial.

The total value of the settlement exceeds $4 million:

  • DJW Ridgeway agreed to pay a total of $2.32 million
  • delaTorre’s employer agreed to pay $225,000 as the third-party defendant.
  • The workers’ compensation insurer agreed to waive its $840,000 lien on delaTorre’s settlement proceeds and further agreed to fund the cost of the medical treatment for his injuries for the rest of his life.

“Thanks to this monetary compensation, Mr. delaTorre will no longer have to worry about how he will be able to pay for necessary medical treatments for the rest of his life,” Burke said.  “Furthermore, we hope this settlement will bring greater attention to the need for better safety oversight on construction sites for the hundreds of thousands of engineers, mechanics and others who are at work on construction sites daily.”

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