In a case of an unsafe workplace, the firm represented a young man who was a tenant in an apartment building where the septic system started to fail. The landlord also owned an excavation company and began to remove and replace the septic system without authorized state permits. He asked the tenants if they would help. They agreed, as their toilets were not functional until repairs were completed. The landlord, using his excavation equipment, was removing the old broken septic system and replacing it with a new one. According to one of the landlord’s helpers, the job was being rushed because of lack of permits and a rumor that the state DES investigator was coming to investigate the worksite.
The firm’s client was told by the landlord to climb into the ditch and smooth the gravel base while the backhoe operator retrieved and then lowered a 2,000 lb. concrete septic tank into the hole. While the client was hunched over with a steel rake smoothing gravel, the backhoe operator dropped the 2,000 lb. tank on top of him, pinning him to the earth and crushing his leg. The earth was still laden with effluent from the septic failure, which invaded the wound. The client was airlifted to D.H.M.C. where, after unsuccessful attempts to save his leg and a life threatening infectious process, the leg was amputated below the knee. The firm brought claims of negligence, reckless conduct, and general contractor liability for an unsafe job site. The landlord settled by paying $1,375,000.00 to the client.