A carpenter has been awarded $2.5 million compensation for a shoulder injury on a construction site after he fell from an unstable temporary stairway.
John White was working in Philadelphia as a carpenter on a renovation project when, in January 2012, he was asked to remove the handrails on a temporary stairway that was going to be replaced by a permanent staircase the following day.
John started to descend the stairway, but before he could start remove the handrails, the stairway collapsed. John fell to the floor one level below – sustaining a broken shoulder and soft tissue injuries to his neck and back, as well as suffering concussion.
An ambulance took John to the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where he underwent treatment for a displaced fracture of his left scapula. He was discharged with his arm in a sling after having several injections in his shoulder. Subsequently John had seven months of physical therapy.
As a result of his accident, John will have permanent mobility issues with his should and still suffers back pain. He has been unable to work as a carpenter since his accident and his injuries have affected his personal life – John being unable to swim or play catch with his young children.
John claimed compensation for a shoulder injury on a construction site against the company responsible for the installation of the stairway and two drywall companies that worked on the renovation project. John alleged in his claim that the stairway had not been installed safely and that the drywall companies had had removed supports from the stairway that had not been replaced.
John´s claim for compensation for a shoulder injury on a construction site was disputed by the stairway installation company and the two drywall companies, despite being supported by other workers on the renovation project who had complained to supervisors that the stairway was unstable.
Unable to reach a negotiated settlement, John´s claim for compensation for a shoulder injury on a construction site was heard by a jury at the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia before Judge Kenneth Powell.
The jury heard two weeks of testimony from expert witnesses before deliberating for a day and finding in John´s favor. The jury awarded John $2.5 million compensation for a shoulder injury on a construction site and John´s wife $500,000 for her loss of consortium – finding both the stairway installation company and one of the drywall companies 40% negligent, while the second drywall company was found to be 20% responsible for John´s accident and injury.