Attorneys John M. Dodig and Jason A. Daria secured a settlement of $2,750,000 on behalf of the Estate of Ronald Lavoie, Jr., who died in the course of his employment with Calpine Corporation when he fell through a hole in an elevated catwalk. The catwalk had been was left uncovered, in violation of OSHA regulations, by contractors who were hired to inspect and overhaul Calpine’s combustion turbines, located in Bethlehem, Pa.
Dodig and Daria filed suit against the contractors, who were responsible under OSHA regulations, contract documents, and their own safety policies, for job site safety and compliance with OSHA requirements. The Defendants claimed that they were not negligent, did not cause the incident, and blamed Mr. Lavoie for his own contributory/comparative negligence. A unique challenge in this case was OSHA’s decision to cite Mr. Lavoie’s employer for OSHA violations and, of course, Mr. Lavoie’s Estate could not pursue a third-party claim against Mr. Lavoie’s employer due to workers’ compensation immunity. Significantly, in that OSHA proceeding, there was a finding that OSHA did not establish that Mr. Lavoie fell through the opening in the catwalk. In the third-party case, Dodig and Daria developed and presented persuasive evidence that Mr. Lavoie did, in fact, fall as a result of that unsafe condition. Dodig and Daria presented additional evidence that Mr. Lavoie endured pain and suffering prior to his death. His wife and two minor children have suffered a significant loss of Mr. Lavoie’s services, comfort, and guidance; emotional and psychological anguish; and economic damages.