A nightclub singer, who was shot an injured in an unprovoked attack after finishing his performance, has been awarded 673,000 dollars in compensation for lack of club security by a court in Washington.
Jamel Williams (26) from Baltimore in Maryland had been performing at The Island Cafe Restaurant and Bar in Washington D.C. on March 15, 2008. After finishing his performance, and while speaking with friends, an unidentified man entered the bar, approached Jamel and fired one gunshot. The bullet went through Jamel´s hand and lodged in his head, where it remains due to the risk of having it removed.
Jamel alleged that the nightclub had been negligent and responsible for his injuries by failing to provide adequate security to prevent the attacker from entering the club and attacking him. In his claim for lack of club security compensation, Jamel claimed that the nightclub had received notice of the likelihood of violence due to multiple violent crimes which had been committed in the vicinity in the recent past.
At the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Judge Craig Iscoe made an ex-parte ruling in favour of Jamel, and awarded him 650,000 dollars in general damages for the pain and suffering he had experienced at the time of the shooting, with a further 23,172 dollars in special damages compensation for lack of club security to cover his medical costs.
According to figures released by Kettering General Hospital Trust, more than a third of all hospital injury compensation claims made by its own staff are attributable to slips, trips and falls.
Representatives of the Northamptonshire hospital claim that the 300,000 pounds that they paid out over the past five years in compensation payments to its staff “is comparable with other hospitals” and that “many measures, training schemes and policies and procedures in place to prevent accidents”.
Nonetheless, in the five year period to April 2011, 40 staff made hospital injury compensation claims with a total value of 313,126 pounds. 115,527 pounds was paid out in hospital injury compensation claims following falls in the hospital which were attributable to the hospital´s own lack of care, with some of the other significant amounts being:-
98,635 pounds for lifting injuries
17,079 pounds due to incidents involving needles
10,000 pounds in hospital injury at work claims due to the environment
6,171 pounds paid to staff exposed to infections, electricity or other hazardous substances
Under the terms of the hospital´s public liability insurance, all injury at work claims less than 10,000 have to be paid by the hospital itself, making a significant hole in the funds available to invest in healthcare and the wellbeing of the hospital´s patients.
A woman who injured her back when she slipped on a broken egg in the Asda warehouse in which she worked, has been awarded 27,000 pounds in slips, trips and falls compensation after her employers acknowledged that her accident had resulted in a serious injury.
Irene Heslop (65) from Fallowfield, Greater Manchester, was employed as a bakery assistant in the Asda store in Hulme, Greater Manchester, when her accident happened in March 2007. Slipping on a broken egg while getting stock from the store´s warehouse, Irene sustained a suspected spinal fracture which prevented her from walking long distances and lifting heavy objects.
The severity of Irene´s injuries was disputed by Asda, who at one point employed a private detective to film her going about her shopping. However doctors at Manchester´s Royal Infirmary hospital supported her claim for slips, trips and falls compensation and, after a protracted legal battle, Asda conceded that Irene had sustained an injury which “seriously curtailed her lifestyle” and agreed to a compensation settlement of 27,000 pounds.
The family of man who suffered catastrophic head injuries on a construction site due to a lack of training are to receive a brain injury settlement in excess of 4 million pounds.
Christopher Kaye (57) from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was changing the grapple attachment on an excavator in October 2008 when the tragic accident occurred. Due to a lack of training, the machine operator failed to employ the release mechanism correctly and an iron rod sprang free and hitting him with force on the head.
Christopher was knocked to the ground with the impact of the blow and was immediately rushed to Sheffield Hospital where he underwent life-saving surgery. Despite the doctor´s best efforts, his accident left him with permanent brain damage and Christopher now requires round-the-clock care.
Following an investigation into the accident, Christopher´s wife – Sue – made a claim for brain injury compensation against her husband´s former employers – Euro Dismantling services Ltd – claiming that the lack of training, combined with no written instruction or personal protective equipment had led to her husband´s injury.
The company originally denied the allegations however, shortly before the case was due to be heard in court, agreed to a brain injury settlement on the basis of 90% liability. The settlement will consist of an immediate lump sum payment of 1.75 million pounds and further annual payments of 135,000 pounds for remainder of Christopher´s life – a total in excess of 4 million pounds based on a life expectancy of twenty years.
Over three hundred workplace injuries due to wind farm accidents were recorded in the UK in 2009/10 according to a recent report by the wind energy industry´s trade body RenewableUK.
The figures, which brought the total number of injuries and incidents due to wind farm accidents over the past five years to 1,500, were condemned by anti-wind farm campaigners who described the statistics as “alarming”.
Campaigners were quick to point out that in addition to the high number of workplace injuries, there were many wind farm accidents which did not result in injuries – such as in September this year when a blade sheared off from a wind turbine in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, and hit a staff member´s car at the nearby Lister Hospital.
In the same month the Health and Safety Executive forced the closure of hundreds of wind turbines in Scotland due to a faulty braking system, while residents of the Cambridgeshire town of Peterborough have complained about lumps of ice being propelled from the blades of a 410 foot high turbine near their homes.
Despite claims from Chris Streatfeild, RenewableUK’s director of health and safety, that no members of the public have ever been harmed in wind farm accidents, the Health and Safety Executive admitted that it was extremely difficult to draw an accurate picture of wind farm accidents, as wind turbines are classified as machines and there is no obligation on companies to report mechanical failures.
The families of 29 miners who died in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia last April, are to share 47 million dollars following the latest fine to be imposed on pit owners, Alpha Natural Resources; raising the total amount paid in fatal accident claims due to the tragedy to over 60 million dollars.
An investigation into the explosion found that there was an excess amount of methane and coal dust present in the underground environment and 369 breaches of workplace safety regulations – 12 of which led directly to the explosion taking place. The company were fined a further 35 million dollars for safety violations and told to put 128 million dollars aside for safety upgrades, research and training.
The eighteen families affected by the tragedy who have already settled their fatal accident claims with Alpha Natural Resources will be entitled to receive a proportion of the fine, but those surviving workers who are yet to have their cases resolved – including nine claims for emotional distress – will have to wait a little longer for their cases to reach court.
The total amount of fines and embargos placed upon Alpha Natural Resources in this latest order (210 million dollars) is the biggest settlement recorded for a coal mining tragedy of this magnitude.
A dock worker, who sustained a brain injury when hit by a defective mooring cable, has won his injuries at work compensation claim against his employer in the Texas Supreme Court.
Cody Karl of League City, Texas, was working at the Magellan Terminal located on the Houston Ship Channel when, on 1st June 2008, he formed part of a team assigned to dock a 600 foot tanker. Cody was aboard a docking skiff when one of the cables used to moor the ship parted and hit him on the head.
Despite wearing a hard hat, Cody was diagnosed with brain injuries which lead to cognitive dysfunction and a loss of physical strength along the left side of his body. After seeking legal advice, Cody made an injuries at work claim against the Magellan Terminal, claiming that the mooring cable was in an unsafe condition for the tension it had to withstand.
Cody´s employers disputed the claim, stating that Cody himself should have seen that the cable had deteriorated and was not safe to use, but at the 125th Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas, Judge Christine Butts found in favour of the claimant and awarded him 15.12 million dollars.
An Australian secretary, who suffered a prolapsed disc injury when moving a delivery of photocopier paper which had been left on her desk, has had her personal injury compensation award of 239,613 Australian Dollars upheld by a judge in Queensland.
Kathryn Jane Dank (54) had been employed as a senior secretary by Tabcorp Holdings for many years, and was a respected member of staff when the injury occurred in October 2004. In the process of removing a 12.7 Kg box of photocopy paper which had been left on her desk by delivery men, Kathryn sustained a prolapsed disc injury.
Despite the pain and discomfort, Kathryn continued to work at Tabcorp Holdings limited until February 2005 when the pain became too much for her to bear. After seeking legal advice, Kathryn made an Occupational Health Compensation Claim, stating that she should not have been lifting heavy boxes in the role for which she was employed.
In last year´s hearing at the District Court at Southport, Queensland, Judge Clive Wall QC awarded Kathryn 239,613 Australian Dollars in compensation after finding Tabcorp Holdings Limited guilty of negligence on three counts:-
That they failed to instruct Kathryn not to lift heavy boxes
That they failed to prevent storemen from placing heavy boxes on her desk
That they failed to ensure that heavy boxes were stored at the correct height
Tabcorp Holdings Limited appealed the decision but, at the Court of Appeal, Justice Hugh Fraser stated that Tabcorp Holdings Limited had not established a ground for setting aside the judge’s original decision that the injury was caused by its negligence.
A Connecticut railway worker, who was injured in the course of his employment and then denied a promotion because of his injury, has been awarded more than 140,000 in damages by the Connecticut Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Bill Ordner from New Haven, Connecticut, worked as an ironmonger for the Metro-North Railroad when, in 2008, he injured his knee in a work-related accident. His employers claimed that the injury was not work-related, disqualifying Bill from claiming Worker´s Compensation while he was unable to work and unable to claim against a medical bill in excess of $2,000.
On returning to work, Bill applied for the position of locomotive engineer – one he was adequately qualified for – but was turned down by Metro-North Railroad on the grounds of his knee injury. Bill took legal advice on the matter and sued Metro-North railroad for personal injury and loss arising from their misclassification of his knee injury.
In the subsequent hearing at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration offices in Boston, the administration judged that Metro-North’s policies and actions “may deter employees from reporting on-the-job injuries for fear of financial or career consequences”, and ordered them to pay Bill $125,000 in punitive damages, $5,000 in compensatory damages and $11,651 in legal and medical expenses.
Metro-North Railroad also was ordered to pay Bill the difference between his current rate of pay and that of the new position plus interest.
A pet store worker, who suffered permanently disabling brain injuries when falling through the roof of the shop in which he worked, is to receive more than one million dollars in personal injury compensation.
Omid Mehdavi (30) of Hayward, California, was helping police investigate a series of burglaries from the store in which he worked when the accident happened in November 2008. While on the roof of the store, showing a Fremont police officer where thieves may have entered the building, Omid stepped back to retrieve a ladder and fell fifteen feet through a skylight to the pavement below.
As a result of his fall, Omid suffered a skull fracture, brain trauma and broken clavicle, and now has permanent brain damage which requires that he take anti-seizure medication for the rest of his life.
After recovering from his initial injuries, Omid filed a claim against the city of Fremont, the police department and the owners of the shopping centre in which the pet store was located.
However, the day before the case was to be heard at the Alameda County Superior Court, a settlement was agreed totalling 1,075,000 dollars, with the city contributing 700,000 dollars and the owners of the shopping centre 375,000 – both parties denying liability for Omid´s injuries.
A Carnival Cruise assistant maitre d´, who sustained a lumbar injury in the course of his duties and was then denied medical treatment, has been awarded almost 800,000 dollars through the International Centre for Dispute Resolution.
Polish born Martin Sokolowski was working aboard the Carnival Cruise ship “Imagination” in June 2008, when he felt a “pop” in his back while lifting food bins weighing up to 100 pounds on and off of the ship. He immediately reported to the ship´s doctor who prescribed pain medication and then administered a pain relief injection several days later when the pain had not abated.
Martin was transferred to another ship later in the month, where his symptoms worsened to include numbness in his right buttock which extended down his leg to his foot. Again Martin was only given pain relief medication, and it was only when the ship docked in Mexico that was Martin able to consult an independent doctor.
The Mexican doctor determined that Martin should have an MRI scan, and this revealed that Martin had sustained a herniated disc. However, although the doctor recommended that Martin be admitted to the local Cabo San Lucus Hospital for emergency lumbar surgery, administrators at Carnival Cruises refused to allow Martin to have the surgery and told that he would have to remain on board the ship which was due to depart for San Diego.
The cruise liner did not arrive in San Diego until August, and Martin went immediately to the UCSD Medical Centre Neurosurgical Department. After an examination, a doctor ordered that he be immediately admitted to the hospital and an emergency lumbar discectomy performed. Unfortunately, the delay in treatment caused Martin to suffer permanent nerve damage to his right leg.
In November 2008, Martin´s neurosurgeon declared that he was permanently disabled and Martin returned to Poland, where the Gydnia County Disability Commission confirmed the doctor´s diagnosis.
No longer able to work in the cruise ship industry, Martin took legal advice and sued Carnival Cruises for failing to allow him receive the emergency surgery he needed. Represented in the US and through the International Centre for Dispute Resolution, Martin had to wait almost three years for his claim to be resolved, but is now to receive the substantial payment due to Carnival Cruises negligence.
A New York City sanitation engineer, who suffered an ankle injury when a colleague ran over his leg in a forklift truck, has accepted 5,250,000 million dollars in compensation in an out-of-court settlement.
Andrew Anderson (37) from New York City, was assisting the colleague install a snow plough to the forklift truck when the accident happened in early 2008. His colleague accidently ran over Andrew´s ankle, causing a severe ankle fracture which required two surgeries to correct.
Andrew also developed reflex sympathetic dystrophy during post-operative complications and sustained foot drop – for which he now requires the use of a foot brace. Since his accident, Andrew has been unable to work and been forced to take early retirement from the City of New York.
After taking legal advice, Andrew sued the City of New York for his injuries. Liability was not disputed and the case was heard in the New York Supreme Court for assessment of damages. However, shortly before the jury were about to begin their deliberations, lawyers on the two sides reached a negotiated settlement of 5,250,000 dollars to compensate Andrew for personal injury, lost earnings and loss of consortium.
A court in South Korea has ordered the giant electronics company to pay compensation to the families of two of its employees after they died from acute myeloid leukaemia.
In an action brought by the father of 22 year old Yu-mi Hwang, it was claimed that the working conditions at the company´s semiconductor plant in Gyeonggi Province exposed Yu-mi and an ex-colleague to toxic chemicals and ionising radiation which caused their illnesses.
Mr Hwang had originally been told that Yu-mi had died from a natural abnormality, but when a second employee also died of the disease, he became suspicious and started an investigation. As he dug deeper, he discovered that there had been many more deaths and illnesses suffered by Samsung employees engaged in cleaning the silicon crystals used in the manufacture of integrated electronic circuits.
Samsung denied the claim, stating that there was insufficient scientific evidence to determine accountability, but the South Korean court found in Mr Hwang´s favour, stating “It is fit to say there is a link between their leukaemia and their careers”.
The ruling could have a significant impact in the UK, where it has been claimed since the 1990s that a health risk exists at the National Semiconductors UK factory in Greenock, Scotland. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that women who worked at the plant developed a higher rate of lung, stomach and breast cancer, and men recorded a higher rate of brain cancer.
However, the HSE chose to take no further action – choosing instead to monitor the situation in the semiconductor industry as a whole.
A man, whose right leg was severed when it became trapped in a grain bin, has been awarded 1.6 million dollars in a product liability compensation claim against the designer of the grain bin – Ken Babcock Sales Inc. of Hiawatha, Kansas – and his employer – the Fredonia Cooperative Association of Fredonia, Kansas.
Sam Rollings (23), of Wilson County, Kansas, was sweeping out corn in the grain bin in January 2007, when he slipped and his right foot became entangled in the drag chain of the grain bin conveyor system. His leg was pulled into the machine and Sam suffered such severe injuries to his right foot and lower leg that surgeons could not save it.
In an action against the designer of the grain bin and his employer, it was claimed that there were no protective barriers or guard rails in the grain bin, and that no instructions or warnings were ever issued to employees working in the grain bin about the hazards which were present. Claiming personal injury due to product liability, the case was tried before District Court Judge David Rogers of the District Court of Wilson County, Kansas.
After seven hours of deliberation, the jury agreed with Sam that both Ken Babcock Sales and the Fredonia Cooperative Association were jointly responsible for his injuries, and awarded a total of 1.6 million dollars to cover a loss of earnings, past medical expenses and future medical care.
A Californian man, who contracted mesothelioma cancer after working with brake linings that contained asbestos, has been awarded almost 17.5 million dollars in a compensation package in a court hearing.
Gordon Bankhead (66) of Oakland, California, worked at the Sea-Land Shipping Company – also of Oakland, California – for more than 30 years. During this time, his duties included inspecting the brakes on heavy duty vehicles, and grinding, blowing out and fitting new brakes where necessary.
It was Gordon’s exposure to the asbestos in these brake components, which lead to him being diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer in March 2010. In the trial against his former employers, evidence was shown to the jury that the Sea-Land Shipping Company was fully aware that asbestos was present in the linings of the brakes, but failed to provide warnings to its customers and employees.
The jury subsequently awarded Gordon and his family a total settlement package of 17,470,000 dollars to compensate him for his economic loss, pain and suffering and punitive damages.
Berkshire local newspaper, The Wokingham Times, has reported that serious workplace injuries in the borough soared by 25% in 2009/10. Although there were no fatalities among those injured, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has urged local employers to redouble their commitment to health and safety.
Speaking to the paper, Mr Mike Wilcock, head of operations for the HSE in the south east, said: “Employers have a legal duty to protect their workers and I would encourage them to make it their New Year’s resolution to ensure they continue to take sensible precautions to prevent incidents in the workplace”.
Commenting on the general statistics for the whole of the south east of England region – which saw a reduction in the total number of all workplace injuries but an increase in the number of fatalities – Mr Wilcock continued “The reduction of employees injured through their work is encouraging, but we must remember that each death results in a family missing a loved one this festive season.”
According to the HSE Report for 2010, there were 3343 serious workplace injuries in the south east region and 15 fatalities.
The rapid response by BP in setting up a $20 billion compensation fund for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has resulted in headlines in Indian newspapers alleging double standards. The reality is a bit more complicated.
The 1983 Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant disaster is bar far the worst industrial catastrophe in history, causing 2,259 deaths immediately and about 15,000 eventually. The official estimates from the Indian government are 558,125 injuries, of which 38,478 were partial disablement and about 3,900 were severely and permanently disabled. There are also allegations that 390 tons of toxic chemicals have been abandoned at the plant that continue to leak and pollute the groundwater.
The disaster is also often cited as one of the worst examples of lack of corporate responsibility, employing tactics that reduce or delay financial liabilities.
Delay Court Cases
Some 26 years after the disaster, there are civil and criminal cases still pending in the United States District Court of Manhattan and the District Court of Bhopal. In some cases, potential defendants are deceased and in many cases, the witnesses can not be expected to remember all the relevant details.
Divert Blame to Elsewhere
The current corporate owners, Dow Chemical Company, has an entire Web site dedicated to denying various allegations against it. The company position is that the disaster was the result of industrial sabotage.
The company somehow managed to persuade the Indian government in 1989 of freeing it of any liabilities by making a once-off payment that in no way covered the costs involved.
All of these actions are in stark contrast to the way in which BP is handling the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: rapid admission of guilt, unlimited resources to resolve the problem, and a massive prepayment of compensation.
The allegations of double standards are almost certainly not the result of different treatment for American victims versus Indian victims. They are primarily due to different companies having different corporate ethical standards.
An agreement has been reached for compensation for 10,000 workers claiming illnesses following the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center attack in New York City. The rescue and cleanup workers were exposed to smoke and airborne debris. New York City has agreed on a $712.5 million injury compensation fund.
U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein has stated that victims will be “assured of a fair deal that puts money in their hand fast”.
The compensation for victims claiming debilitating respiratory diseases who contracted severe asthma within seven months of exposure will receive awards in the range of $800,000 and $1 million. The compensation agreed for deaths is in the range of $1.5 million.
The next step in the process is for at least 95% of the plaintiffs to consent to the agreement to make it legally binding on everyone.
Some interesting aspects of the deal:
Workers with no specific injury but who claim fear of becoming sick have been awarded $3,250.
Everyone is to get a special insurance policy for $100,00 for specific blood and respiratory cancers.
Punk legend and former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLarend died of mesothelioma, an incurable lung cancer that is most commonly associated with prolonged exposure to asbestos particles. It is believed that ceiling of his King’s Road, London, clothes store contained asbestos. Although asbestos is no longer used as a building material, the death of Malcolm McLarend illustrates that asbestos is still an important category of workplace injury claims.
California Workers’ Compensation Institute has published research that finds that farm accidents cost the California workers’ compensation system $1.46 billion in loss payments, which is 5.5% of Californian Workers’ Compensation claims. The most comment types of injuries included back problems (sprains or strains), minor woulds and skin injuries, and shoulder, arm, knee, and lower leg sprains.
Teagasc the Health and Safety Authority estimate that one-third of Irish workplace deaths take place on farms. Most accidents involve tractors and machinery (49%), followed by livestock (15%), falls from a height (12%), and drowning (12%). Unfortunately, the Injuries Board Ireland does not provide information on farm accident claims.