Construction Worker Awarded $17 Million in Damages

california construction worker lawsuit

In 1998, a jury awarded a former construction worker $17 million in damages after he suffered serious injuries on a construction site in 1995.

Reggie Qualls was 27 years old and had just started a new job as a construction worker. Three days later, Qualls was asked to use a loader/backhoe without any prior use or training. While taking a break, he put his cooler on top of his jacket and stood outside the machine. The cooler slipped and pushed one of the pedals down causing the boom to swing around and crush Qualls. As a result, he sustained multiple injuries that led to paralysis from the chest down.

Booth & Koskoff were Qualls’ attorneys and they set out to prove that Case Corporation (the manufacturer of the backhoe) was at fault. They claimed that the backhoe was not fitted with sufficient protection from “inadvertent actuation”. Booth & Koskoff’s research found that Case could have prevented multiple similar incidents. It also revealed that Case, in the 60s, patented and utilized a locking mechanism that could have prevented Qualls’ accident; however, they stopped using the mechanism after just one year.

In the lawsuit, Booth & Koskoff stated that Qualls could never work again, would accrue major medical costs, and was therefore entitled to $13 million in damages. To avoid a trial, Case attempted to settle for $3.1 million, but because the settlement was so low, Booth & Koskoff refused it. The judge presiding over the case decided that the jury should be bifurcated – split into two phases. The jury in the first phase determined that Case was at fault for the accident. Before the second phase began, Case again tried to settle for a smaller amount; this time they offered $8 million and, again, Booth & Koskoff refused.

The second phase of the trial lasted 30 days and at the end the jury decided that Case should pay Qualls $17 million. Case then appealed the decision, but during that process they offered to settle at $12.6 million and Booth & Koskoff accepted. With that money, Qualls was able to buy a home, pay for his medical care, and even travel to Europe.

If you have been injured due to negligence and are in need of a serious injury lawyer in southern California, please contact the Booth & Koskoff office nearest you for a free personal injury case evaluation.

Photo by Christopher Campbell via Unplash.