A $21 million verdict was returned recently in a work-related case by a Pike County, Ala. jury. The Plaintiff, Rebekah Blades, suffered a life threatening injury at a Wal-Mart facility in 2008. The Plaintiff, who was 26 at the time of the accident, was injured while working in one of the 14 banana ripening rooms at the Wal-Mart distribution center in Brundidge.
The center had expanded its capacity to handle produce, which included the large banana rooms that were about 30 feet tall. On the date in question, a 3- to 4-foot-tall metal plate which covered the trim at the top of one of the room’s doors, fell 30 feet as Ms. Blades stood in the doorway, striking her in the face. The woman’s face was literally cut open resulting in nerves and muscles in her face being severed. This was a most severe and disabling injury.
The lawsuit was filed against Thermal Technologies and its contractor, Helsel Contracting, which built the banana rooms along with their doors. The metal plate fell from the top of the doorway because it wasn’t properly secured with bolts. The outside contractors failed to follow their own plans and safely secure the piece of the metal that struck Ms. Blades in the face. Ms. Blades had reconstructive surgery on her face, along with plastic surgery to repair the scarring. In the days following the accident she developed seizures, which now occur on a regular basis. She also is at risk of a condition called sudden epileptic death. Because of her injuries, including the seizures, Ms. Blades can’t be alone and can’t care for her child. On one occasion, Ms. Blades had an episode and fell down the stairs with her child in her arms.
Mark Andrews, Cory Driggers and Dan Talmadge, lawyers with the Dothan firm of Morris, Cary, Andrews, Talmadge and Driggers, along with Richard Calhoun from Troy, represented Ms. Blades. They did an outstanding job in this case. I understand there was a high-low agreement agreed to by the parties prior to trial which means there will be no appeal by the Defendant in this case. The high number will be paid by the Defendant’s insurance carrier.
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