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Attorney Joel Rosen obtains a $ 3.1 Million Recovery in Scaffold Accident

Cohen Placitella & Roth attorney Joel Rosen reached a $3.1 million settlement on behalf of the Estate of William Bracken, a masonry laborer who was killed when a scaffold he was working next to blew over in the wind, causing his death.

The recovery was made against Burchick Construction Company, the general contractor on the work site where Mr. Bracken’s employer was working as a subcontractor. This case settled after jury selection and three full days of trial in state court in Allegheny County Pennsylvania. Before trial, the parties engaged in an unsuccessful mediation. After the third day of trial, the defendant substantially increased its settlement offer. Mr. Rosen proved that Burchick’s unsafe practices caused this accident; it covered a scaffold that was on wheels and failed to attach it to the building as conditions required. Mr. Bracken was survived by his wife and their three sons.

In addition to focusing on the importance of workplace safety, this case highlighted the often difficult task of a subcontractor’s employee bringing suit against a general contractor on the work site and avoiding the immunity often given to general contractors under Pennsylvania’s Worker’s Compensation Law. Recent decisions by the Pennsylvania Superior Court have appropriately allowed such lawsuits, and denied immunity for the general contractor, when the contractor is truly “independent” of the general contractor. Mr. Bracken’s family was able to sue the wrongdoer in this case and obtain a substantial recovery against the negligent general contractor responsible for safety at that job site.

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