A 29-year-old factory worker and married mother of three children suffered catastrophic injuries when she crawled under an inadequately guarded machine to remove a jam. While she was under the machine working to free the jam, a rotating shaft caught her hair and pulled off most of her scalp. A nearby worker heard her screams and rushed to shut down the machine. Emergency responders cut her free and urgently transported her to the hospital. She nearly bled to death because of her massive injuries but heroic medical providers saved her life. However, her fine doctors could not reattach the large portions of her scalp lost when her hair became caught in the machine’s innerworkings. After dozens of surgeries and countless medical encounters, she still struggles with intractable headaches, incapacitating phantom pain, post-traumatic stress, and severe anxiety and depression. She will never recover from her injuries and sees a radical change in her appearance each time she looks in a mirror. Despite the efforts of her skilled doctors, she will never be able to regrow most of her hair.
Galfand Berger, LLP attorneys Debra Jensen and Brad Smith anticipated multiple challenges from the outset, and from Day One they worked to create a record that would get their client’s case before a jury. The original manufacturer of the inadequately guarded machine had been out of business for more than 30 years at the time of this accident. Debra and Brad knew that to avoid the entry of summary judgment they had to create a factual record that two existing companies were successors-in-interest. Showing that the two companies purchased some of the original manufacturer’s assets, Debra and Brad built a solid record on this pivotal legal issue.
Through aggressive discovery, Debra and Brad uncovered documents showing that the parent company of their client’s direct employer took an active role in safety inspections at the factory where their client worked day to day. Debra and Brad created a record showing that the parent company’s safety inspector and safety committee never identified the inadequacy of the guarding on their client’s machine.
Using medicolegal artwork and models, plus in-person videotaped interviews with care providers, before and after witnesses, and their client’s devoted husband, Debra and Brad created a gripping picture of their client’s permanent life changes.
Debra and Brad obtained a 5-million-dollar settlement in a case that initially seemed to have no viable defendants. This money will provide Galfand Berger’s client freedom from financial anxiety so she can undergo future medical treatment and work to maximize her recovery.