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$822,500 Verdict for Electrician Who Fell from Warehouse Work Platform

Missouri Lawyers Weekly

Kevin Dalton sued Inquiry Intelligence Systems for personal injury after he fell from a homemade work platform and fractured his wrist and elbow on Jan. 2, 2001.

Dalton, a 33-year-old electrician, was sent by his employer to the defendant’s warehouse to work on lights on the ceiling. The warehouse owner offered to have one of its employees operate a forklift with a work platform positioned on it to raise Dalton to ceiling height.

The platform was homemade, held in place by gravity and four-inch clamp. As the platform was being lowered, it tilted to one side and threw Dalton to the concrete floor. He fell about six feet and was off work for five months. He returned at half his usual salary due to his injuries.

Dalton’s doctors argued that he could not return to work as a journeyman electrician. Dalton claimed that the defendant was negligent in supplying a dangerous instrumentality with knowledge of its defects. Dalton argued that the defendant should have safely secured the work platform to the form and was negligent for not providing an OSHA-approved work platform.

He presented evidence that the defendant could have bought an industry approved platform for $250 and that the warehouse owner had 11 lift trucks and regularly received but discarded industry literature on approved work platforms.

The defendant claimed that Dalton’s employer should have provided a man-lift for him or that Dalton should have inspected the platform for defects.

The jury returned a verdict in favor of Dalton, assessing his damages at $1 million and his wife’s damages on her consortium claim, at $175,000. After allocating 30 perfect fault to Dalton, the court entered a judgment for $822,500.

Type of Action: Negligence

Type of Injuries: Comminuted fracture of the left wrist; fracture of radial head of right elbow

Court/Case Number/Date: St. Charles County Circuit Court/012-00668/ April 5, 2002

Caption: Dalton v. Inquiry Intelligence Systems

Judge, Jury or ADR: Jury

Name of Judge: Nancy Schneider

Verdict or Settlement: $822,500 after allocation of fault

Special damages: $28,000 medical expense; $20,000 past lost wages; $738,000 future lost wages

Allocation of Fault: 70 percent to defendant; 30 percent to plaintiff

Last Offer: $75,000

Last Demand: $400,000

Attorneys for Plaintiff: John D. Anderson and John J. Page, Anderson & Associates, St. Louis

Insurance Carrier: Columbia Group

Plaintiff’s Experts: Franklin Lever, Morristown, N.J. (forklift expert); Leroy Grossman, St. Louis (economist); Dr. James Schabert, St. Charles (orthopedic surgeon); Dr. Willian Strecker, St. Louis (orthopedic surgeon)

Defendant’s Experts: Michael Brethauer, St. Louis (occupational placement expert)

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