An ironworker whose right leg was amputated
and left foot crushed when a 3,000-pound granite base stone toppled
over onto him during the renovation of a 106-year-old Philadelphia
building has settled with the work site's general contractor and
three other defendants for $16.3 million.
In Jones v. Intech
Construction, according to the plaintiffs' mediation
memorandum, 47-year-old plaintiff Alfonso Jones was working on the
renovation of the Lafayette Building in Philadelphia, which was
being prepared to house the Hotel Monaco.
Jones was working in the building's basement as one of his
co-workers, Fran Kenney, was attempting to insert another shore
pole under one of the granite base stones located at ground level
above Jones, according to the plaintiffs' memorandum.
The base stone suddenly toppled over onto Jones, cutting off his
right leg and crushing his left foot, the plaintiffs' memorandum
According to Robert J. Mongeluzzi, who represented Jones along
with Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky partner Andrew R.
Duffy, it took Jones' co-workers about 20 minutes to devise a lift
mechanism and remove the base stone from on top of him.
Jones remained conscious the entire time, according to the
Jones now uses a prosthetic leg but has difficulty getting
around and is often confined to a wheelchair, the plaintiffs'
Jones can no longer work and has been diagnosed with
post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the plaintiffs'
The plaintiffs' memorandum said the accident was "entirely
According to the plaintiffs' memorandum, the renovation project
required that the sidewalks in front of the building, along with
areas underneath the building's granite facade, be demolished so
that new structural steel could be installed in the basement to
support a new sidewalk.
Large granite pilasters in front of the building sat on the
large granite base stones, according to the plaintiffs'
Because the structural support for the base stones was removed
when the sidewalk was demolished, the plaintiffs' memorandum said,
the stones required temporary support.
According to the plaintiffs' memorandum, Occupational Safety and
Health Administration rules and American National Standards
Institute/American Society of Safety Engineers standards require
that the shoring measures be fully engineered.
"However, on this project, it is universally admitted that the
shoring was not engineered, not designed and not properly
installed," according to the plaintiffs' memorandum. "The multi-ton
load was not thoroughly analyzed and no comprehensive system was
designed to support it."
Instead, the plaintiffs' memorandum said, defendant Intech
Construction, the general contractor, installed "a collection of
wooden posts and miscellaneous aluminum shore poles."
Eight days before Jones' accident, according to the plaintiffs'
memorandum, workers on the site noticed one of the base stones had
become loose despite the installation of the shore poles. When they
removed the base stone the following day, they realized it was not
pinned to the structure.
Intech, however, failed to take any additional precautions to
protect workers while the stability of the stones and effectiveness
of the shoring were analyzed, according to the plaintiffs'
"Demolition continued, structural steel work proceeded and no
'off-limits' or other safety zones were established," the
plaintiffs' memorandum said. "Al was required to work in the
immediate vicinity of the improperly shored granite blocks while
demolition equipment banged away nearby, rattling the surrounding
The plaintiffs' memorandum said Intech's contract gave it
"absolute control over job site safety."
Intech, however, argued in its own settlement conference
memorandum that it had properly shored up the base stones before
Jones and Kenney improperly attempted to install another shore pole
without Intech's authorization.
Intech also said in its memorandum that it had relied on
defendant engineering firm O'Donnell & Naccarato's advice, via
email a few months before the accident, in shoring up the base
But O'Donnell & Naccarato maintained in its own settlement
memorandum that it was not actually retained by Intech until the
afternoon of Jones' accident, at which point Intech hired the firm
to satisfy Licenses and Inspections' demand for a shoring plan so
that the project could proceed.
According to O'Donnell & Naccarato, while its project
engineer did discuss the building's granite column cladding in an
email with Intech's superintendent a few months before Jones'
accident, Intech never mentioned having relied on the email to
shore up the base stones during the OSHA investigation following
It wasn't until close to a year after Jones filed suit in the
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas that Intech convinced the
plaintiffs to file an amended complaint joining O'Donnell &
Naccarato as a defendant, the engineering firm said in its
The plaintiffs' memorandum also alleged that Delta/BJDS, the
project's demolition contractor, was in charge of removing the
sidewalk but had only recently gotten into the demolition business,
having previously been primarily an abatement contractor.
"Thus, Delta was demolition-clueless, so much so that Delta's
voluminous safety manual failed to even address demolition," the
plaintiffs said in their memorandum, alleging Delta failed to
perform an OSHA-required engineering survey of the site.
But Delta argued in its own settlement conference memorandum
that Intech was solely responsible for shoring up the base
The plaintiffs also alleged in their memorandum that defendant
Central Metals, the sister company of Jones' employer, Roma Steel
Erection Inc., failed to comply with its OSHA obligation to provide
workers with a safe job site and had been required under its
contract with Intech to "'furnish and install all temporary shoring
as required to perform [its] work.'"
Central Metals argued in its settlement conference memorandum,
however, that it had delegated steel installation responsibilities
to Roma and that the steel installation did not compromise the
structural support of the base stones in any event.
Central Metals also said in its memorandum that Roma was
responsible for ensuring the safety of its own employees and that
Roma diligently took measures to do so.
Jones and his wife, Christa Jones, settled in mediation
Wednesday for $16.3 million with Intech, Delta/BJDS, O'Donnell
& Naccarato and Central Metals, according to Mongeluzzi.
Mongeluzzi said it was unclear how the settlement would be
apportioned between those four defendants.
Mongeluzzi said he believed the settlement was spurred on by the
defendants' fear of how a jury would react to the Joneses, whom he
said "are among the most likeable, charming, well-loved clients
we've ever represented."
Counsel for Delta, William E. Schaefer of Hendrzak & Lloyd
in Center Valley, Pa., and counsel for Central Metals, Walter
Swayze III and Richard A. Godshall of Segal McCambridge Singer
& Mahoney in Philadelphia, declined to comment on the
Counsel for Intech, Joseph R. Fowler of Fowler Hirtzel McNulty
& Spaulding in Philadelphia, and counsel for O'Donnell &
Naccarato, Richard Davies of Powell, Trachtman, Logan, Carrle &
Lombardo in King of Prussia, Pa., could not be reached for comment
at press time.