BHH Secures Voluntary Discontinuance of Wrongful Death Case Involving Worker Crushed by DumpsterPhyliss A. Hafner
Phyliss A. Hafner, Esq., partner in the Buffalo, New York office of Burden, Hafner & Hansen, LLC, secured the voluntary discontinuance of a wrongful death case in August 2018. This wrongful death lawsuit arose out of an accident that occurred on May 25, 2016, at the Decedent’s place of employment in Syracuse, New York.
The Decedent was in the course of his employment as a mechanic supervisor when he was crushed by a 600-lb. dumpster while it was being unloaded from a truck owned by his employer. The Decedent was standing directly behind the truck attempting to guide the dumpster as it was being lowered from a liftgate, which was positioned above his head, to the ground. The Decedent and his co-worker were using the liftgate on the truck, rather than a forklift, to unload the dumpster. As the liftgate started to lower, the dumpster shifted and rolled off the back of the truck. The Decedent was not able to move out of the way of the falling dumpster, and the dumpster landed on him. The Decedent sustained multiple traumatic injuries, including, but not limited to death, laceration of the parietal scalp, abrasions to his face and forehead, basilar skull fracture, subdural hemorrhage, acute fractures of the right ribs, fracture of the T2 vertebral body, and fracture of the femur.
Plaintiff, the Decedent’s wife, filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of New York Federal Court asserting causes of action in strict products liability, negligence, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty and improper warnings against several entities in the chain of distribution of both the truck and the liftgate. Burden, Hafner & Hansen, LLC, was able to impress on the Plaintiff’s attorney that the Decedent bore some liability for the happening of the accident and any remaining liability, if any, was likely due to the actions of the Decedent’s employer, whom the Plaintiff could not maintain a direct cause of action due to New York’s Workers Compensation laws. The evidence exchanged by the parties revealed that that an available, working forklift should have been used to unload the dumpster, and the owner’s manual for the liftgate advised persons to stand to the side of, not directly behind the liftgate, when it was in operation.
Ultimately, Plaintiff’s Counsel elected to voluntarily execute a Stipulation of Discontinue of all claims with prejudice against each of the named Defendants prior to the completion of paper discovery and prior to conducting any party and/or non-party depositions. The prompt resolution of this matter enabled the client to avoid a lot of time and expense in defending what would have been a very lengthy and protracted case given the complex legal issues involved in the matter.