On Sept. 22, 2004, plaintiff David Nowak,
a 35-year-old pipefitter, was operating a JLG, stick boom aerial
lift at his worksite, in the KVP Warehouse Construction Project, in
Reading. Nowak had positioned the lift near an elevated I-beam to
perform welding and, as he slowly elevated himself in the work
basket, he inadvertently touched the drive/steer controller,
causing the lift to bolt forward.
After the lift raised up toward the horizontal I-beam, Nowak
was then pinned between a steel I-beam, with his back pushing
against it, and the control panel of the lift which was lodged into
his chest. With his abdomen pressed hard against the control panel
and the controller pressed full forward, the lift rammed into
Nowak's midsection repeatedly, pushing his back into the I-beam,
until his foreman finally rescued him by hitting the emergency stop
on the machine's ground controls. He sustained multiple severe
Nowak sued the manufacturer JLG Industries Inc., as well as the
company that leased and serviced the lift, United Rentals North
America Inc. alleging design and manufacturing defects, as well as
poor maintenance and training.
INJURIES/DAMAGES: Nowak was
hospitalized from Sept. 22 to November 3 at Lehigh Valley Hospital.
He was kept in a medically induced coma. He was diagnosed with
burst fractures at L3 and L4 along with a major colon injury. He
also had a deep vein thrombosis in his right arm and
ventilator-dependent respiratory failure. While he was
hospitalized, Nowak underwent exploratory laparotomoy with
diverting colostomy and bag insertion, and seven other surgical
procedures. At discharge, he could ambulate only with
Nowak was readmitted to Lehigh Valley Hospital in June, 2005 for
additional abdominal surgery because his fistula had become
infected. He then developed another infection of the abdominal wall
mass in June 2006, which eventually required surgery in February,
2007. That procedure included the removal of Nowak's hernia
In June 2007, Nowak went to the Cleveland Clinic
for a second opinion. The surgeons there recommended conservative,
symptomatic management of the recurrent fistula infections.
Plaintiff's counsel asserted that Nowak has
constant pain in his midsection along with impaired bowel and
bladder function. Counsel contended that Nowak also suffered an
embarrassing episode where his colostomy bag exploded in public.
Nowak was unable to work with the injuries and that forced his wife
to return to work to provide for their family. Asserting Nowak's
condition was chronic and permanent, plaintiff's counsel sought an
unspecified amount for his pain and suffering.
VERDICT INFORMATION: The parties
agreed to a $4.2 million settlement.