Construction worker falls to his death from concrete form. $26.9 million. Los Angeles County.

Summary

Construction worker on top of a concrete form panel falls when panel collapses. Liability is disputed among contractors.

The Case

  • Case Name: Rosa B. Gonzalez, Aaron E. Gonzalez and Atarah E. Gonzalez v. Atlas Construction Supply, Inc.
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC 507755
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, July 20, 2016
  • Type of Action: Construction Site Accident, Negligence, Wrongful Death
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Suzanne G. Bruguera
  • Plaintiffs:
    Rosa B. Gonzalez, 33, widow.
    Aaron E. Gonzalez, 12, son of decedent.
    Atarah E. Gonzalez, 7, daughter of decedent.
  • Defendants:
    Atlas Construction Supply, Inc.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $26,953,169.50
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    The employer, Cal Builders, is immune from liability under California's worker's compensation laws and was not a defendant. The net recovery against Atlas is $16.3 million plus costs.

  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 55% fault to Atlas and 45% fault to Cal Builders.
  • Economic Damages:

    $3,500,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    $23,500,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 12 days.
  • Jury Polls: 12-0 liability; 11-1 damages.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Grassini, Wrinkle & Johnson by Lars C. Johnson, Woodland Hills.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Dawson & Clark by Donald H. Dawson and Kathleen Clark, Detroit, MI.

    Morris, Polich & Purdy LLP by Douglas C. Purdy, Los Angeles.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    David Stern, general contracting, Santa Monica.

    Mohamed Hassan, structural engineering, Los Angeles.

    David Fractor, Ph.D., economics, Pasadena.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Gregg Brandow, structural engineering, Rancho Santa Margarita.

    William Powers, crane operation, Phoenix, AZ.

    Terry Lysek, general contracting, Mission Viejo.

    Daniel Montrenes, economics, Irvine.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On August 2, 2011, 30-year-old Edgar Gonzalez died while working on a construction project at the Hyperion Treatment Plant in Los Angeles.

    The project was commissioned by the City of Los Angeles. The general contractor and Gonzalez's employer was USS Cal Builders. At the time of the incident, Cal Builders was in the process of erecting "wall form panels" which are temporary walls that are used to support poured concrete that dries in place to form permanent concrete walls.

    Gonzalez was on top of a 30-foot-high form panel when it collapsed, sending Gonzalez to his death. Cal Builders hired a subcontractor, defendant Atlas Construction Supply, Inc. to design the wall form system and supply the wall form components.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiffs contended that the accident occurred due to the negligence of Atlas and Atlas' defective wall form system.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Atlas denied responsibility, contending that the wall fell due to the negligence of the contractor Cal Builders, the City and the crane operator who placed the form panel in its location.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $8,000,000 policy limits.

Additional Notes

Defense offered: $200,000 at mediation; $1,000,000 prior to trial; $2,000,000 during trial; $3,000,000 before closing arguments.

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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