$750,000 Settlement Reached by Tremont Sheldon P.C. for Injury at Work
A 24-year-old woman was employed as a machine operator/checker at Pepperidge Farms in Norwalk. H.G. Steinmetz Machine Works, Inc. of Stamford manufactured and installed an infeeder conveyor system in the shipping and crouton department at Pepperidge Farms. At about the midpoint of the conveyor system, there were two rollers. The rotating parts and pinch points located near the rollers and drive unit of the conveyor system were partially exposed and unguarded.
At approximately 5:00 p.m., as part of her usual duties, our client was sweeping up croutons that had fallen off the conveyor. As she did this work, her right arm got caught in the right roller and it was pulled into the conveyor, almost to her shoulder. In an effort to free it, she braced her left arm on the machinery and, unfortunately, that extremity was caught by the left roller and was similarly pulled into the conveyor. As manufactured and installed, the conveyor system did not have an emergency shut-off mechanism running along its entire length, which would have allowed it to be deactivated in the event of an emergency. Moreover, there were no on and off switches in the area where the client was working.
As a result, this young woman was caught in the machine and in incredible pain for some time before fellow employees heard her screams and were able to come to her assistance. Although she was able to free her left arm, it took approximately 25-30 minutes before maintenance personnel could dismantle the system and free her right arm. She was transported by ambulance to Bridgeport Hospital where she remained for eight days. She was treated there for a displaced shaft fracture of the right humerus, requiring open reduction and internal fixation; a crush injury of the radial nerve of the right arm, with external compression, requiring external neurolysis and surgical release; a laceration of the right axilla, requiring debridement and surgical closure; a compound fracture of the left radius and ulna, requiring external fixation; crushing and degloving injuries of the left upper extremity, requiring debridement and skin grafting; extensive, permanent scarring about both upper extremities; and post-traumatic stress disorder and a major depressive disorder.
In the opinion of her treating orthopedist, this young woman has a residual permanent partial impairment of 15% of the left arm and 5% of the right arm. She also has ongoing psychological problems, including depression, nightmares, and a change in her personality, although, with treatment and the passage of time, there has been substantial improvement in her overall symptoms.
Tremont Sheldon P.C. resolved the case by means of a structured settlement, which has a present value of $750,000. Under the terms of the settlement, our client will receive for the rest of her life monthly payments that are equivalent to what she was earning at the time of her unfortunate injury, with an annual cost-of-living adjustment. In addition, the workers’ compensation carrier agreed to waive its lien of approximately $175,000.