In a recent North Carolina wrongful death case, a decedent’s estate appealed from a summary judgment in favor of a building company. The decedent was an employee of a steel company that had subcontracted with a building company to install structural steel at a construction project.
The steel company’s employees left a 700-pound beam of tube steel on steel pads or saddles that were welded onto vertical steel columns. The employees attached the beam to a center mounting tab situated on the columns. However, the workers didn’t weld the ends of the beams to the saddles. The steel company’s employees loosened the center bolts, causing the beam to fall 12-15 feet. The beam crashed into machinery, bounced off the concrete, and hit the decedent in his head, neck, and upper back.
Ambulances arrived at the construction site, and the decedent told the emergency responders that the lower half of his body was numb. The emergency responders took him to the ER, where he was diagnosed with an acute, serious injury to his spine. He was paralyzed below the neck and suffered severe pain. In spite of several surgeries to remove the shattered bone from the decedent, he eventually died.