Industrial Accident at Water Treatment Plant Makes it to State Supreme Court, Construction Accident at Same Facility in the Meantime
Recently your South Carolina construction accident attorneys came across an interesting decision in the Supreme Court of the State of Washington. The case concerns a catastrophic tank failure at Spokane's sewage treatment plant. The failure happened in May 2004 when three workers were doing their best to prevent overflowing septic sludge from running into the Spokane River. After the digester tank collapsed one of the maintenance workers fell into the sewage sludge and drowned. The trial judge in this case noted that the worker "arguably suffered one of the most disgusting and terrible deaths imaginable."
The two other workers suffered serious on the job injuries when the digester tank overfilled and collapsed. One of the workers was thrown from the top of the dome shape digester tank and suffered a fractured pelvis, fractured tibia, fractured ribs, serious back and spine injuries including compression fractures of vertebrae, and sludge aspiration (action of drawing in fluid) causing a permanent reduction in lung capacity by 20%. The other worker, who was on the ground at the time of dome's collapse, suffered serious knee and back injuries after being knocked over by a wave of cascading sewage sludge.
The deceased worker's family and the two injured in the industrial accident sued CH2M Hill Inc. for negligence. CH2M is a corporation from Florida and the engineering firm hired by the City of Spokane as a consultant for the plant's improvement project. Under the Industrial Insurance Act, the City of Spokane was immune from the suit, despite being the employer of the deceased worker and the two others injured in the accident. The judge in the bench trial ruled in favor of the plaintiffs (killed worker's family and injured workers) the Court of Appeals certified the case to the Supreme Court of the State of Washington.