Our client was working for a metal recycling company. His crew was hired to go onto a job-site and cut up heavy machinery to be recycled for scrap metal. The owner of the machinery agreed that he would remove all flammable liquids prior to allowing our client access to cut them up. However, he forgot to do so on the last machine. As our client was working on this piece, he struck a pressurized hydraulic line, causing the hydraulic fluid to burst, ignite, and burn him badly.
Our client was hospitalized and some of his skin grafts developed complications, requiring two rounds of surgery. His medical bills were over $100,000. The owner’s insurance company tried to blame our client for his injuries, arguing that he shouldn’t have relied on the owner to do as he had promised. The insurance company did make our client a settlement offer prior to him hiring Dwyer Williams Dretke PC, and promised that it would never offer more.
Dwyer WilliamsDretke, PC became involved at this point. We filed a lawsuit in federal court that included claims for negligence, breach of contract, breach of warranty, violation of the Employer Liability Law, and violation of the Oregon Safe Employment Act. We conducted substantial discovery in support of these claims and hired a forensic engineer who determined how the line became pressurized and who calculated the spray pattern of the flaming hydraulic fluid. Just before trial, the insurance company folded, agreeing to settle the case for $600,000 – substantially more than its “final” settlement offer prior to our firm’s involvement.