Workers awarded $4.2 million after falling through skylight on roof of freight company warehouse

Beasley Allen personal injury attorneys secured a $4.2 million verdict against FedEx Freight East (formerly American Freightways Inc.), on behalf of Daniel Olive and Jeffrey McWilliams, after a Calhoun County Circuit Court jury found that the company failed to adequately protect workers or visitors from skylight hazards at its Ohatchee facility.

“This case is a classic example of the serious injuries that can occur when a company fails to take the simplest precautions to protect those who set foot on their premises,” says Beasley Allen’s Mike Crow. “The verdict sends a loud and clear message that negligence that puts workers at risk will not be tolerated.”

Olive and McWilliams were partners in SOS Communication on Oct. 9, 2001, when FedEx Freight East hired them to install a satellite on the roof of one of the warehouses at the Ohatchee terminal. After discussing which type of satellite dish and the installation method required with Lyndon Woodall, Olive and McWilliams went to the terminal and climbed onto the roof to begin the installation.

While pulling wire through a hole on the roof, Olive stepped backward and fell through a skylight, which has been painted white, the same color as the roof. As he fell, McWilliams attempted to catch him, and, in doing so, both men suffered serious head, face, and brain injuries. The injuries left both men with permanent pain and injuries that diminished their ability to earn future income and overall life quality.

An investigation by Beasley Allen revealed that the skylight was not guarded by a standard skylight screen or fixed railings on its exposed sides as required by OSHA regulations. FedEx Fright East should have known its skylight wasn’t protected because another person had previously fallen through a skylight on the premises. Yet, the company failed to warn Olive and McWilliams of these hazards.

This case was filed in the Circuit Court of Calhoun County, Alabama, civil action number CV 02-581.

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