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Highway Worker Recovers $5.1M After Construction Jig Falls on His Head

The faulty jig that injured plaintiff Elias Marmon.

A young highway worker who was paralyzed when a construction implement used to lift concrete barriers fell on him has recovered a $5.1 million recovery for his injuries.

Elias Marmon, the plaintiff, was employed by Plain Feather Construction in Billings, Montana to assist in the construction of concrete barriers in a road construction contract that had been awarded by the state DOT to Riverside Construction, Inc.

A jig that was being used to lift concrete barrier forms fell off of a forklift on September 10, 2013, and violently struck him on the head. Mountain West Holding Company, Inc., a subcontractor to Riverside, had rented the jig, forklift and barrier forms to Plain Feather and had trained Plain Feather employees on how to fabricate them.

"Wrong place, wrong time" defense

The plaintiff filed suit against Riverside Construction and Mountain West, individually and on behalf of his two minor children, on October 29, 2014. He was represented by Terance P. Perry, a member of The Nation Trial Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers, and Jason Williams of Datsopoulos, MacDonald and Lind, P.C. in Missoula, MT.

The defense was essentially that the plaintiff had been standing in the wrong place at the wrong time and, consequently, that he was responsible for his own injuries.

The jig provided by Mountain West had not been attached to the forklift to prevent it from falling off. At no prior time had Mountain West ever:

  • Warned any employee of Plain Feather that the jig could fall off of the forklift and cause serious bodily injury.
  • Taken any steps to adequately secure the jig to the forklift.
  • Inquired of the forklift manufacturer as to whether or not the jig were, in fact, a proper attachment to use on the forklift, as required under governing OSHA regulations.
  • The forklift manufacturer had never authorized Mountain West or Plain Feather to use the jig as an attachment on the forklift or to modify the forklift by adding the jig to it.
Elias Marmon today.

The plaintiff suffered life threatening and permanent injuries which included a depressed frontal skull fracture, multi-level thoracic spine burst fractures, numerous skull base and facial fractures, a traumatic brain injury, partial loss of vision, and other injuries. He spent approximately five months in the hospital, during a significant part of which he was in a coma. As a result of his injuries, the plaintiff was rendered a paraplegic. He was 25 years old at the time and had two young sons.

The case proceeded to mediation on October 14, 2015 before Steve Carey, Esq. and subsequently settled for a combined payment to the plaintiff, individually and on behalf of his minor children, in the amount of $5.1 million.

Plaintiff's counsel: Terance P. Perry, a member of The Nation Trial Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers, and Jason Williams of Datsopoulos, MacDonald and Lind, P.C. in Missoula, MT.

Plaintiffs' Experts: Reg Gibbs, MS, CRC, LCPC, CBIS, CLCP, Rocky Mountain Rehab, P.C., Billings, MT: life care planning and vocational rehabilitation expert; David K. Hoover, Forklift Training Systems, Newark, OH: forklift training and operations expert, OSHA compliance; Thomas E. Copley, CPA, CV A Galusha, Higgins and Galusha, Missoula, MT: valuation expert.

Mediator: Steve Carey, Esq., Carey Law Firm, P.C. Missoula, MT

Defense counsel: Matthew Baldassin, Esq. (Crowley Fleck) (for Riverside Contracting, Inc.) Charles E. McNeil, Esq. (Garlington, Lohn and Robinson) (for Mountain West Holding Company, Inc.).

The case is Elias Marmon, Individually and as Next Friend of his Minor Children, Z.M. and T.M. v. Mountain West Holding Company, Inc. and Riverside Contracting, Inc., Missoula, MT, Fourth Judicial District Court DV-14-1171, Dept. No. 4, Hon. Karen S. Townsend

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