Solnick & Levin Partner Jay L. Solnick Secures $1.8 Million Settlement for Immigrant Worker Due to Concrete Company's Negligence in Complex, Five-Party Negotiations
JENKINTOWN, Pa., May 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In a construction accident case, attorney Jay L. Solnick of Solnick & Levin, Jenkintown, PA, obtained a negotiated settlement for Zhe Feng Huang, a naturalized citizen of Korean ancestry, who was injured while working as a siding installer at the Ridgelea housing development in Pottstown, PA. The $1.8 million settlement included payments from four different defendants.
Huang, as part of a construction crew, was standing on a ladder, supported by wooden braces. The braces were nailed to the front porch roof of a house under construction. Huang was working to install siding above the porch. However, according to experts retained on behalf of Mr. Huang, the porch itself was improperly supported. Temporary wooden supports had been placed by Sunrise Concrete Co., a concrete subcontractor on the worksite, while they poured the porch slab. When the porch roof collapsed, Huang fell, suffering damage to the optic nerve behind his right eye, a broken nose and small fractures to his facial bones.
Liability in the case centered on responsibility for installation of the temporary beams meant to secure the porch as well as supervision over the construction project. Sunrise Concrete Company denied responsibility for any carpentry work, including the temporary beams installed to support the porch roof. However, the plaintiff's lawyer, Jay Solnick, obtained evidence that Sunrise had performed the same work, as a matter of procedure, on other houses built in the development, using a subcontractor, Cruziero Novo Construction.
Negligence was also alleged against Realen Homes, the builder and developer for the housing development, for improper supervision and oversight of the construction, and against McKinley Contractors, a carpentry subcontractor on the worksite. McKinley was alleged to have been responsible for placement of the temporary wooden supports for the porch, subsequently removed and replaced by the concrete contractor. A final defendant was Exteriors, Inc., the siding contractor on the worksite. Exteriors, Inc. hired Huang's employer to do the siding work. Although not originally named as a Defendant by Huang, Exteriors was joined in the case by one of the other Defendants. The eventual settlement combined $1.25 million from Sunrise Concrete, $300,000 from McKinley Contractors, $150,000 from Exteriors, Inc., and $100,000 from Realen Homes, for a total of $1.8 million.
The case illustrates the complexity of pursuing a claim against multiple defendants (there were four law firms representing the various defendants), with each pointing fingers at the others and denying direct responsibility. While the negligence of the concrete subcontractor seemed to be apparent once relevant documents were turned over and depositions taken, negotiating and finalizing a settlement proved to be difficult. The factors complicating the matter included insurance coverage issues, contractual complexities between the four defendants, and claims that Mr. Huang himself was responsible for the incident. Further challenges facing Solnick & Levin involved concerns as to how effective Mr. Huang would be as a witness. Mr. Huang does not speak English and, several years after the accident, his injuries were no longer visible. In addition to the complexities of the case, these considerations highlight the nature of the settlement, which was entered into just before the trial was scheduled to start. "We were very pleased to obtain a full and fair settlement for Mr. Huang," said Jay Solnick, "It was a difficult case and we are happy he can now move on with his life."
Solnick & Levin, LLC serves workers compensation, personal injury and disability clients across PA, NJ and in the Greater Philadelphia area. Solnick & Levin attorneys can be reached at 215-481-9979.
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SOURCE Solnick & Levin, LLC