The owners of a Susquehanna County rock quarry and a machine manufacturer have agreed to pay $6.5 million to the mother of a man killed after he fell into a giant rock crusher. B.S. Quarries Inc. and two of its associated companies were Defendants in the case. The family would have been able to show that the company pressured employees to ignore safety rules so it could increase profits. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in 2013 on behalf of Pauline Bailey of Binghamton, New York, the mother of 22-year-old Wesley Sherwood, who was killed in December 2011 when he fell head first into a rock-crushing machine at B.S. Quarries.
The incident happened as Sherwood was trying to clear rocks that had jammed in the crusher, which was running. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration determined the quarry was at fault for failing to ensure Sherwood and other employees were trained on how to safely clear rock jams. The case was scheduled for trial, but a settlement was reached with B.S. Quarries and its associated companies, Damascus 535 Quarry & Stone Products and TNT Services Corp., all of Montrose, and Lippmann Milwaukee Inc. of Cudahy, Wisconsin, which manufactured the rock crusher. The quarry Defendants will pay $4 million and Lippmann $2.5 million.
A former quarry worker was expected to testify that employees were pressured not to shut equipment down when a jam occurred because it slowed production, which cost the company money. Workers who complained were told “you have to do it if you want your job,” according to one of the family’s lawyers. While settlements in civil cases are often kept confidential, Mrs. Bailey would not agree to keep this settlement secret. She had this to say:
It’s important to me that the message gets out that they did wrong. We pursued it and got justice so, hopefully, this doesn’t happen to anyone else.
Mrs. Bailey is to be commended for her courage and determination to help others. The family was represented by Michael Pisanchyn, a lawyer located in Scranton, Pennsylvania.