$1,290,000: Railing Falls 14 Floors Striking Worker in Head

CASE DESCRIPTION: Darren M., a glazier foreman, was working on a seventh floor balcony of a new construction high rise building in downtown Los Angeles, when he was struck in the back of his helmeted head by a sixteen foot long 2×4. The impact rendered Darren unconscious for at least a minute.

Investigation revealed that Darren was struck by a guard rail that had been installed around a materials platform on the 20th floor of the building. Employees of defendant Mr. Crane, Inc., were operating a crane at the time of the incident and moving materials off of the 20th floor material platform.

Instead of removing the 16 foot long guard rail to allow clear access to the materials platform, Conco (general contractor) and Mr. Crane employees attempted to have the materials hoisted up and over the railing. When a load failed to clear the railing, it knocked the 2×4 out of its brackets, where it free fell for 13 floors until striking Darren on the head. Eyewitness testimony conflicted as to whether the impact of the falling railing was reduced by the railing first striking another railing.

After laying unconscious for at least one minute, Darren regained consciousness, but remained unable to move his legs and arms for several more minutes. Co-workers carefully moved him to safety in a covered area of the seventh floor until emergency personnel could arrive. By the time emergency personnel arrived, Darren had regained movement in all of his extremities.

RESULTS: $1,290,000 and waiver of workers compensation lien in excess of $110,000.

DATE OF SETTLEMENT: February 2, 2012

INJURIES: A CT scan confirmed fractures through both posterior lamina of C-6, as well as through the lamina of C-7 and the base of the spinous process of C-7, all of which were treated conservatively. Darren Miller was returned to work six months following the incident, with some restrictions, and then returned to work without any restrictions one year following the incident. Following his return to work without restrictions, Darren Miller reported increased pain in his neck, lower back, and shoulders as well as headaches, as well as sporadic numbness and tingling into both upper extremities. Sherry Miller brought a claim for loss of consortium.

TYPE OF CASE: Negligence

DATE & LOCATION OF INCIDENT: May 9, 2008 Construction site at 717 Flower Street, Los Angeles, CA.

PLAINTIFF’S AGE: Darren was 48 at time of incident

OCCUPATION: Glazier Foreman


Zurich Insurance