Three companies have agreed to settle a lawsuit for $17 million in connection with the death of an electrician who was struck by an iron hook that fell from a crane.
Adam Nowak was installing electrical equipment at Veolia Energy’s Schuykill Stream Plant in Philadelphia when a crane hook fell about 60 feet, striking and killing him.
Nowak’s widow sued Veolia and two other companies. The couple had two young children, and Nowak had three children from a previous marriage.
One of the lawsuit’s claims was that Veolia had “reckless disregard for the safety of its employees and on-site contractors.”
The lawsuit claimed Veolia was negligent for failing to:
- maintain the crane’s limit switch which prevents a hook from being raised too high, causing the cable to snap and the hook to fall
- test the limit switch on a daily basis, and
- train its workers to perform limit switch tests.
The lawsuit also claimed Permadur Industries failed to properly inspect and repair the crane as it was contracted to do.
Kenny Industries, a contractor, was also included as a party in the lawsuit for being responsible for job site safety.
The plaintiff’s (Nowak’s) pretrial memorandum stated:
- Several members of Veolia’s management admitted Permadur had advised Veolia to replace the outdated limit switches on its cranes following an incident in 2004, but Veolia failed to do so, and
- A Veolia vice president testified at deposition that the company failed to follow through on Permadur’s recommendations and Veolia didn’t live up to its goal of making safety its highest priority.
All three companies agreed to contribute to the $17 million settlement: $15 million from Veolia, $1.5 million from Permadur and $500,000 from Kenny.
An attorney for Nowak’s widow said he believed a jury would have awarded more than $17 million, but Michele Nowak wanted to settle so a drawn-out trial wouldn’t interfere with the time she spends with the children.