Our law firm, along with the law firm of Marsh, Rickard and Bryan, recently resolved two wrongful death cases for $6 million. Our clients were conducting repairs on a radio tower. The two men were approximately 40 feet up on a tower when a bucket truck operated by an employee of Barnhart Crane & Rigging Co. carelessly backed over a guy wire that supported the tower. As a result, another guy wire failed and caused the tower to collapse. Despite being correctly tied off to the tower, the two men, both married and with children, fell 40 feet and died.
Our investigation into this matter revealed that these tragic deaths were clearly preventable. The driver of the bucket truck, an employee of Barnhart, had scouted the site for hazards and worked around the tower for two days. The driver admitted that he knew the location of the guy wires that he eventually struck. Prior to these deaths, Barnhart employees had followed company guidelines and CDL driver’s guidelines to use a spotter before traveling under guy wires with commercial vehicles. The driver failed to follow those policies before the tower collapsed.
Sadly, another employee of Barnhart Crane & Rigging Co., was sitting in the passenger seat and should have served as the spotter, which would have prevented the bucket truck from striking the guy wire. Also, Barnhart had another safety program entitled “GOAL” (Get Out and Look), but testimony from the company’s Safety Director revealed that the employees of the Gadsden office failed to follow that policy. These tragic deaths would have been avoided if either of these two simple and well-known safety procedures had been followed.
The two cases were settled for $6 million ($3 million each) by the families of the two victims. The settlement came just days before the trial was to start in Anniston, Ala. Chris Glover and Cole Portis from our firm, along with David Marsh and Jeff Rickard from Birmingham, represented the families of the two co-workers. The two firms worked well together and obtained a very good result for the families. David and Jeff are excellent lawyers. They, along with Chris and Cole, did a very good job in this case.
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