The mother of a man who fell into a rock crusher and was killed has settled her lawsuit against the Northeastern Pennsylvania quarry and the crusher manufacturer for a total of $6.5 million.
Pauline M. Bailey, the mother of 22-year-old Wesley J. Sherwood, settled with B.S. Quarries Inc. and Lippmann Milwaukee Inc. B.S. and its subsidiaries agreed to pay $4 million and Lippmann agreed to pay $2.5 million. The case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, was resolved prior to trial. The settlement also covered all attorney fees for Bailey’s lawyers from the Pisanchyn Law Firm in Scranton.
Sherwood was apparently attempting to clear a jam in the crusher when he was killed after leaving the area of the machine’s protective railing, court papers said.
An investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration concluded that safety procedures were lacking at the quarry and Sherwood was not adequately trained on how to safely perform maintenance on the rock crusher, according to court papers.
An excerpt from the Department of Labor’s report appearing in an earlier opinion from U.S. District Judge James M. Munley stated, “The accident occurred due to management’s failure to establish policies and procedures ensuring the safety of persons performing work at or near the rock crusher.”
The plaintiffs’ case combined wrongful death and products liability elements. In their respective court papers, the defendants denied they were at fault.
Lippmann maintained that there was no design defect or flaw in the crusher that contributed to Sherwood’s death, despite Bailey’s claims. And B.S. pointed to its expert report that said the cause of Sherwood’s fall was not clear and therefore “there can be no averment of improper training if the activity that resulted in the event is unknown.”
“Through this $6.5 million award, the Pisanchyn Law Firm is hopeful quarries and manufacturers throughout the United States will realize that it is not worth the risk to gamble with young men and women’s lives simply to produce more rock per hour and thereby make more profit,” plaintiffs attorney Michael Pisanchyn said in an email.
John J. Aponick Jr. of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin’s Scranton office represented B.S. and declined to comment.
Zygmunt R. Bialkowski Jr. of Margolis Edelstein in Scranton, who represented Lippmann, did not return a call seeking comment.