On March 12, 2009, sixteen workers were being flown on a Sikorsky S-92 helicopter to oil platforms stationed off the coast of Newfoundland. A titanium bolt cracked, releasing all of the oil in the gear box, causing the transmission to seize, and the helicopter to plummet into the frigid north Atlantic.
Fifteen of the passengers perished as the helicopter sank; the lone survivor suffered lifetime injuries. Because Sikorsky had recently moved its headquarters for S-92 helicopters to the Delaware Valley, Canadian counsel asked Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer to represent the sole survivor and all of the families of the passengers killed. Investigation showed that Sikorsky knew long before the accident about the vulnerability of its titanium bolt and that its helicopter could not stay aloft for 30 minutes after complete oil loss, a safety feature standard in other copters. Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer filed suit in Philadelphia state court, and then Sikorsky asked to enter into mediation discussions. In order to document each family’s loss, Raynes attorneys, working with their Canadian co-counsel, videotaped hundreds of hours of interviews that were then edited into sixteen settlement presentations, one for each client. Through two weeks of mediation and in less than a year after the accident, every client’s case was resolved for amounts– made confidential to protect the clients–that ensured their financial security and honored those that they had lost.
As John moved a large piece of equipment across the factory floor, it fell, smashing into a six gallon glass bottle of sulfuric acid that a co-worker had left sitting out. John slipped into the spreading puddle of acid, burning his shoulder, upper arm, and neck. Since the chemical manufacturer knew the acid bottle was to be used in a factory, Martin Brigham, lead trial counsel, argued that the bottle should have been encased in a heavy plastic wrap. Videotaped testing of a wrapped bottle withstanding heavy impacts convinced the jury to rapidly return a verdict that was more than twenty times the defendants’ highest offer to settle.
Our firm represented the estate of a woman who was tragically killed in a head on motor vehicle accident. While the accident was caused by the negligence of the other driver, the airbag in our client’s vehicle failed to deploy, despite the direct impact of the collision, causing fatal injuries. Mark LeWinter and Amber Racine successfully developed the theory that the airbag’s components were faulty. In advance of mediation, our team created and presented a settlement video that truly depicted the tragic losses our clients suffered as a result of losing their wife/mother. As a result of the dedicated persistence of our team, mediation resulted in a significant settlement.
Manuela worked at a commercial laundry, feeding sheets into the heated rollers of a large iron. The commercial iron–nicknamed a “Mangler” in the industry–was not equipped with any guards. Manuela’s hand was pulled into the nip-point, resulting in the amputation of her arm. The commercial iron had been purchased used from another laundry, whose staff swore that the iron had proper guards when it was sold. Through extensive investigation, Martin Brigham discovered a video of the machine prior to its sale that documented that the prior owner had removed the guards. Once the truth was known, Mr. Brigham was able to negotiate a confidential seven figure settlement.
As the operator of a large piece of construction equipment sat down in the cab, he unintentionally moved the joystick control, causing the boom to swing uncontrollably and knock a piece of equipment onto a young man standing nearby. The innocent bystander became a quadriplegic. The Raynes team of Roy DeCaro, Dan Bencivenga and Marty Brigham, established that the excavator manufacturer’s design violated international safety standards, ignored safety alerts from its country’s OSHA, and lacked a commercially available alternate design that would have prevented the injury. After jury selection had been completed, the defendants settled for $24,000,000.
While Mike was troubleshooting a commercial air conditioning unit, the compressor—made in 1954—overheated. The lubricating oil pressurized and exploded out through an electrical terminal, where a spark ignited the oil as it sprayed onto Mike. Even though Mike’s employer had thrown out the compressor, Martin Brigham, lead trial counsel, was able to use photographs to identify the manufacturer, which led to the discovery that this style of compressor had caused many similar accidents. Mike’s case settled for $4.5 million.
Milling machines are used to grind off the top layer of a road prior to re-paving. Because of its size, it is difficult for the operator to see everything in the path of the machine unless the machine is designed to have effectively positioned mirrors. A milling machine operator couldn’t see a co-worker, John, who was in a blind spot. Tragically, John was literally ground to death. Martina McLaughlin conducted extensive research and discovered evidence that the defendant had formulated–years before John’s death–visibility specifications and had tested mirrors that would have provided visibility along the sides of the machine and prevented the accident. This evidence overshadowed the defendant’s attempt to blame the victim or machine operator and led to a significant settlement.