A story that vividly illustrates at least three points:
1. When it comes to safety, training and prevention are a lot less expensive than the alternative.
2. Even when workers’ compensation laws are unwieldy and a nuisance, there’s a lot to be said for “exclusive remedy” provisions.
3. You never want any case to end up in the hands of a jury.
It happened in Texas, the only state where workers’ comp participation is still voluntary. An industrial worker lost most of the vision in one eye after being sprayed by acid.
He sued, claiming the acid-addition system he was working on had been negligently designed because it lacked a pressure ventilator and failed to properly vent.
The trial lasted two weeks. But the sympathetic jury took less than two days. Its verdict: a $9.6 million award to the partially blinded employee.
The jury assigned 75% of the blame to the company that designed the system, 20% to his employer and only 5% to the employee himself.