A jury in Anniston, Alabama awarded a $4,208,000 verdict to two workers who were injured while working at a Fed Ex terminal in Ohatchee, Alabama. The incident giving rise to the lawsuit occurred when the two men, Daniel Olive and Jeffrey McWilliams, were installing a satellite dish on the roof of the terminal. One of the workers, Mr. Olive, stepped backwards and fell through a skylight which was camouflaged because of the exposure to the sunlight and weather. The other employee, who was on the ground floor, attempted to catch Olive before he hit the concrete floor. Both men were injured in the incident.
Fed Ex knew that the skylight panels presented a dangerous hazard that exposed persons who had to be on the roof to an unnecessary risk. Two workers had previously fallen through a skylight on the same building about one year prior to this incident. Under OSHA regulations the skylight should have been guarded by a standard skylight screen or a fixed standard railing on all exposed sides. Feb Ex created a highly dangerous condition by failing to install a screen or a railing. The jury found that Fed Ex discarded the need to protect workers who were expected to be on the roof.
The evidence at trial clearly showed that the Fed Ex corporate architect inspected the building three times prior to Mr. Olive’s fall and made no recommendations for skylight guards of any kind. Fed Ex knew that its own employees, as well as vendors and maintenance people would have to be on the roof on a regular basis. The Fed Ex corporate office had knowledge of the prior falls, but still refused to make changes or install skylight screens. The case was tried by Mike Crow from our firm along with Mark Andrews of the Dothan firm of Morris, Cary, Andrews.
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