An Indiana jury recently awarded a $48 million verdict to an injured steelworker and his wife. The jury rejected attempts by Defense lawyers to blame the worker for his own injuries. The jury found Minteq International, Inc. negligent for over-spraying its refractory onto a stationary ladder in a Burns Harbor steel mill. The 42-year-old worker, Anthony Arciniega, was rendered paraplegic on November 20, 2004, when the refractory suddenly broke loose from the ladder, causing him to lose his grip and fall 17 feet. The jury also found that the worker was zero percent at fault for the accident. The verdict is believed to be a record for a paraplegia injury in Indiana and one of the ten largest personal injury jury verdicts in the United States last year.
In addition to blaming the injured worker, Minteq’s lawyers tried to lay blame on other contractors in the steel mill and on International Steel Group. The jury rejected both of these defenses. While 50% fault was allocated to the worker’s employer, 100% of the verdict is attributable to Minteq since it never properly identified the employer as a non-party under Indiana law.
The injured worker faces millions in future medical expense and nursing care as well as constant nerve pain, according to trial testimony of his doctors. Despite the injury, however, he returned to work at the steel mill in a wheelchair within six months. After he was injured, his wife began working at a nursing home to make up for the family’s lost income. She also served as her husband’s nurse and took care of the couple’s three children. Kenneth J. Allen, a lawyer with offices in Indiana and Illinois, handled this case and did a very good job.
Source: Associated Press
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