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Howard Popper – $4.125 Million Settlement

$4.125 Million Settlement in Wrongful Death Claim

Howard Popper – $4.125 Million SettlementHoward Popper, Esq negotiated a $4,125,000 settlement for the family of a New Jersey iron worker who fell to his eventual death on a jobsite because the general contractor failed to ensure the use of OSHA required fall protection. The worker suffered serious and catastrophic injuries which eventually led to his death. The deceased left a wife and two daughters.

At the time of the fall, the worker was approximately 24 feet above the ground. Regulations established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandate “conventional fall protection” for all workers engaged in construction who are walking or working 6 feet or more above the ground. That may include guardrails, safety nets or personal fall protection systems, such as tethers, lanyards or “yo-yos,” which prevent the worker from falling all the way to the ground. The general contractor in this case failed to confirm the use of these safety fall protection mechanisms. The general contractor failed to make daily inspections and hold safety “tool box” meetings, despite having an OSHA certified employee on site.

During discovery, attorney Popper discovered a clause in the contract between the general contractor and its customer a municipality, stating “time [was] of the essence” and penalizing the general contractor $1,000 per day, should the project not be completed by specified dates. This provided powerful evidence the general contractor’s failure to include, demand and confirm the necessary fall protection was a cost-cutting measure, putting profit above the lives and safety of workers.

The general contractor contended that, because the deceased iron worker was actually a trained safety officer, he knew of the dangers and should have refused to work on the job. Attorney Popper correctly cited law from the New Jersey Supreme Court, which holds that “to suggest that a worker not do his job” in order to avoid any risk of injury caused by a boss’s carelessness or negligence is “not a meaningful choice.” In this particular instance, the victim was a non-union worker who likely would have been fired if he had refused to work under unsafe conditions.

The case was resolved after a grueling full-day mediation, where the surviving family members were awarded $4.125 million in damages.