Hoyt & Blewett PLLC is proud to announce that we have secured an $11-million settlement for a construction worker who lost his arm in a workplace drilling accident. The settlement was achieved before trial after protracted litigation. This case result, which is one of the largest reported single Plaintiff personal injury settlements in Montana history, will help our client find financial stability after suffering a life-changing injury. We are thankful that our client trusted our team with such an important case.
Details of the Drilling Accident Amputation
Our client suffered a traumatic amputation of his arm on a highway construction project when his arm became trapped in a rotating drill as he was attempting to manually change the 260 pound down-hole hammer on the drill rig. A machine called a rod casing handler, which is specifically designed to change the extremely heavy down-hole hammer, was not provided on the jobsite.
Starting Legal Action After the Accident
Our client was covered by workers’ compensation so his employer, was immune from suit. However, Oftedal, the general contractor of the road construction project, had agreed to certain provisions in its contract, which we contended created a non-delegable duty to provide the necessary safety devices, including a rod casing handler, and to not permit any employees to work in hazardous conditions. We filed a lawsuit against Oftedal in Montana alleging that Oftedal breached its contractual non-delegable duty and was legally responsible for causing our client’s injuries in the road construction accident. Client v. Oftedal Construction, Inc., MT 16th Judicial Dist. Ct., Custer County, Cause No. DV 22-7.
Securing a Settlement Before Trial
Oftedal claimed that our client’s employer was a specialty subcontractor and that Oftedal had the right to rely on the employer to do its work and that Oftedal was in no way negligent. Oftedal also claimed that our client was comparatively negligent.
A vast number of depositions were taken of Oftedal and the employer’s employees, after which we filed a motion for summary judgment against Oftedal based on its admissions in its Rule 30(b)(6) corporate depositions that it relied on the employer to provide the necessary safety devices on the job site, including a rod casing handler, even though Oftedal had agreed in its contract to do so and that Oftedal had admittedly provided no safety devices. We also filed a motion for summary judgment on the defense of comparative negligence based on the rule set forth in Olson v. Shumaker, 2008 MT 378, ¶ 69, (another case handled by our firm) which limits the defense of comparative negligence considerably in this type of non-delegable duty workplace safety case.
Oftedal intended to put into evidence all the conduct of the employer and its employees claiming the evidence was not offered to blame the employer, but only to contest causation. However, in its Rule 30(b)(6) corporate depositions, Oftedal admitted that the lack of a rod casing handler on the project was the cause of our client’s injury. We also filed a motion in limine to prohibit all evidence of the conduct of the employer, except on the day of the injury, since the jury needed to understand what had happened on that day when our client’s arm was traumatically amputated.
All these motions were pending before the Court when Travelers agreed to pay the $11,000,000 liability policy limits in exchange for a release of Oftedal. The trial was set for November in Miles City, Montana.
Would you like to know more about Hoyt & Blewett PLLC and our work as workers’ compensation attorneys and catastrophic injury lawyers? We are a nationally recognized law firm that represents the wrongfully injured and their families in Montana. Please call (406) 233-1302 or contact us online to arrange an initial consultation.