Man Settles Claim for the Loss of a Leg in a Construction Accident

A man has settled his claim for the loss of a leg in a construction accident just as the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed an order granting a new trial.

In the summer of 2009, Ruick Rolland from Delaware County in Pennsylvania was a contractor working for Senn Landscaping when the company was engaged to construct a replica of Augusta National Golf Course´s iconic Hogan Bridge over a pond at the home of Bruce Irrgang.

To assist with the construction work, Irrgang had arranged for the hire of a five-ton bulldozer through his company – United Construction Service Inc. – but, when the bulldozer was delivered to the construction site, the ten-year-old son of Steven Senn climbed into the cab and started operating it.

The driver who dropped off the bulldozer reported it to his supervisor – who opted not to ask any questions – and the young boy continued to drive around the estate in the bulldozer until he drove too close to Ruick and crushed the contractor´s left leg as he was working.

Ruick had to have the leg amputated, after which he sought legal advice and made a claim for the loss of a leg in a construction accident against Senn Landscaping, United Construction Services and Modern Equipment Sales and Renting Co – the company that had delivered the bulldozer and whose supervisor had not taken any action to prevent the ten-year-old boy from operating the machine.

A summary judgement was made in favor of Ruick, but a proposed $6 million offer of settlement was declined, and the claim for the loss of a leg in a construction accident was heard by a Delaware County jury in March 2013 for the assessment of damages only.

The jury awarded Ruick $18 million compensation and his wife $2 million for her loss of consortium, but the award was appealed by the defendants on the grounds that summary judgement was improvidently granted, a workers´ compensation file with information about the accident was excluded from the trial and that Ruick had been comparatively negligent by not stopping the boy from operating the bulldozer.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld the appeal, and ordered that a new trial should be held to assess a more appropriate award of damages. However, before a new hearing date could be arranged, Ruick settled his claim for the loss of a leg in a construction accident for $12 million – $5.5 million of which will be paid by both United Construction Service Inc. and Modern Equipment Sales and Renting, with the remaining $1 million being paid by Senn Landscaping.