Employer accused of flouting OSHA regs; $2.2 million settlement
The surviving spouse filed a claim for Section 28 double compensation based on the employer’s willful misconduct. She alleged that the employer willfully violated OSHA regulations by failing to implement cave-in protections required for excavation work, and that the employer had been cited by OSHA for doing so on multiple prior occasions.
The insurer was required to assume the employer’s Section 28 liability due to the employer’s insolvency following the incident. The insurer contested the causal relationship of the employer’s failure to safeguard the trench and the death of the employees, asserting that the precipitating event was not a trench collapse but rather the explosion of a 100-year-old water main pipe unrelated to the employer’s work.
The parties reached settlement terms after mediation prior to the Section 11 hearing.
The $2.2 million settlement is believed to be the largest “accepted liability” settlement ever approved at the Department of Industrial Accidents without any significant medical expenses involved in the Section 28 claim, according to the claimant’s counsel.
A third-party negligence claim against the general contractor of the construction project is pending.
Action: Workers’ compensation
Injuries alleged: Death
Case name: Withheld
Court/case no.: Department of Industrial Accidents/case no. withheld
Jury and/or judge: N/A (settled)
Amount: $2.2 million
Date: Nov. 1, 2018
Attorneys: Brendan G. Carney and Gerard B. Carney, of Carney Law Firm, Boston (for the claimant)