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Trial Attorneys at Romanucci & Blandin, LLC Reach $6 Million Settlement and nearly $1 Million Workers’ Compensation Lien for Injured Union Plumber

August 15, 2018

Attorneys at Romanucci & Blandin, LLC announced a settlement today on behalf of their client, Marvin “Tommy” Larson who slipped and fell on a snow-covered, icy roof of an addition under construction at Modern Process Equipment, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois in January of 2011. Larson significantly injured his back, requiring four different surgeries and since has been declared disabled, no longer allowing him to work. The case settled against the general contractor, United Insulated Structures, Corp. (UISC) for $5 million dollars and for $1 million dollars against Lino and Poli, Larson’s employer. Lino and Poli also waived their $945,133.99 Workers’ Compensation Lien. 

To obtain the settlement, the attorneys at Romanucci & Blandin had to overcome a number of notable legal hurdles. In 2015, United Insulated Structures, Corp. brought a Motion for Summary Judgement, arguing that it owed no duty under any theory of recovery brought by the Plaintiffs. Judge Kathy Flanagan granted UISC’s motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs appealed. On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial courts grant of Summary Judgment, finding that the actual practices on the jobsite showed that UISC “did supervise the safety of the roof and retained exclusive control to remedy any weather-related dangerous conditions there.” Specifically, UISC was responsible for making sure that the roof of this project was safe for subcontractors like Larson before permitting them to work.

In its lawsuit the plaintiff alleged that Larson, a union plumber, was assigned to a construction site where an add-on was being built at an existing industrial building. During the job, the general contractor entered into a change-order with the building owner where it took on the responsibility to clear the snow and ice from the roof of the add-on in order to allow work to progress. On January 14, 2011, Larson was on the jobsite completing interior plumbing work when he was told by the general contractor to complete some work requiring him to go to the roof. When Larson got outside, he encountered a snow and ice covered TPO roof – A rubber membrane roof that is notoriously slippery when wet or covered in ice and snow. Within minutes of stepping on the roof, Larson slipped and fell, significantly injuring his back, resulting in a laminectomy and fusion, and ultimately ending his career.

“The appellate court’s ruling in this case is significant as Section 414 of the Restatement of Torts stands for the proposition that when someone entrusts work to another, but retains the control of any part of the work, can be held liable for the injuries sustained by someone arising out of a failure to exercise that control with reasonable care,” said plaintiff’s attorney, Stephan D. Blandin, principal and partner at Romanucci & Blandin, LLC. “For Section 414 cases (construction cases) the central issue is always control. If a general contract maintains enough control over the jobsite, they can be held liable for the acts of a subcontractor. In recent decisions, the appellate courts have been finding that the control necessary to hold the general contractor liable is not there. Oftentimes, the decisions state that the general contractor must control the means and methods of the subcontractor’s work to be found liable.”

“The workers’ compensation settlement and lien waiver secured for Mr. Larson is very significant as tragically, his injuries have resulted in him being declared disabled and no longer able to do the work he loved or provide for his family,” added plaintiff’s attorney, Frank A. Sommario, partner at Romanucci & Blandin, LLC. “This settlement and lien waiver will be of great assistance in covering his lifelong medical costs and living expenses.”

Romanucci & Blandin Senior Associates Michael E. Holden and Bruno R. Marasso, and others, also assisted in representing the plaintiff.

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