John A. DeGasperis, Esq.

John A. DeGasperis Obtains Seven-Figure Settlement for Kingston Miner

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Basch & Keegan recently obtained a seven-figure settlement on behalf of a Kingston man who
was seriously injured in a tractor-trailer, workplace accident. John A. DeGasperis represented a
sixty-four-year-old Miner in this personal injury action. After years of litigation, John
negotiated a settlement worth $1,068,500.

Our client sustained a multitude of injuries including the femur and pelvic fractures that resulted in
a total hip replacement and nerve injuries that results in foot drop and spine surgery. The foot
drop is permanent and renders the client incapable of working. These types of injuries are
serious, and they come with long-lasting effects. John fought hard to ensure the settlement
took into consideration the permanent nature of his client’s injuries.

This case involved an accident that occurred at the Clinton Point Quarry located in
Poughkeepsie, New York. The quarry was owned and operated by the client’s employer: Tilcon
New York, Inc. (“Tilcon”). Our client worked as a miner. He was a member of the Local
Operator’s Engineer.

The quarry contains a water-side dock along the Hudson River. Tilcon used the dock to load
barges with stone product. Tilcon was in the process of erecting a new wash plant at the
quarry, near the dock. The accident happened during the erection of the wash plant.
Tilcon had hired Bietzel Corporation to serve as the general contractor for the construction
project. Bietzel erected the wash plant with the assistance of numerous miners including our

Tilcon contracted with American Materials Processing, Inc. (“AMP”) to design the wash plant.
AMP also manufactured the steel pieces that comprised the wash plant. AMP manufactured
the steel pieces at a manufacturing facility located in Pheonix, New York. The fabricated steel
had to be transported more than 600 miles on flatbed trailers from Western New York to
Dutchess County.

Mendon Enterprises, Inc. (“Mendon”), a trucking company, was hired by AMP to transport the
steel to the quarry.

Mendon employed a truck driver to transport the steel. Mendon provided the driver with a
Peterbuilt tractor and single-drop, flatbed trailer. The trailer measured approximately 30 feet in
length, 3-6 feet in height, and 8 feet in width. The trailer was equipped with various straps,
chains, cords and other securing devices.

Mendon’s truck driver arrived at the Pheonix facility with an empty trailer. AMP provided a
forklift operator to load the steel on to the trailer, but Mendon’s driver supervised and
orchestrated the loading process. The load consisted of miscellaneous fabrications that
differed in weight, size, and dimension: 1 steel walkway, 1 steel ladder assembly, 4 twenty-foot
sections of railing, 4 fifteen-foot sections of railing and 4 eight-foot sections of railing.

Mendon’s driver positioned the ladder on the driver’s side. He positioned the walkway in the
center. He placed the railings on the passenger side and leaned them against the large, heavy
walkway. He secured the load with straps before heading to Poughkeepsie.

The railings had an estimated, combined weight of 2,000 pounds. The railings were unsteady
on their feet. They were not designed to stand upright unless secured.

Our client was assigned by his employer to help unload the flatbed trailer at the Ready Line.
The “Ready Line” is a staging area located within the quarry. Tilcon parked its heavy equipment
at the Ready Line. This is where the accident happened.

Upon arrival, our client and his co-workers assessed the load. They conferred with truck driver
too. Together, all four men formulated a plan to safely unload the steel. They agreed Tilcon’s
Telehandler was sufficient to unload the heavy steel pieces.

A Telehandler is a mechanized lifting machine. It functions much like a forklift, but it offers
increased versatility and an extending boom for greater reach. One major downfall to the
Telehandler is visibility. The vehicle’s cab is situated on the left , which creates a limited field of
vision for the operator. Spotters are necessary for safe and effective Telehandler operations.
The Telehandler operator grew concerned about the steel railings as he inspected the load.

During pre-trial depositions, the Telehandler operator gave testimony indicating that the
railings had not been properly loaded onto the trailer. According to the operator, the railings
were subject to tipping as they should have been laid down on the flatbed trailer, not stacked

Our client got up onto the flatbed trailer to help guide the Telehandler operator. Meanwhile,
the truck driver began the process of unstrapping the steel pieces. The driver removed the final
strap from the load when suddenly the steel railings shifted and tipped over. The railings struck
our client and catapulted him off the trailer onto the hard packed dirt below. He landed on his
right side. The impact was so powerful that our client’s pants burst open at the seams.

An ambulance was dispatched to the scene of the accident. Our client was found lying on the
ground. The ambulance rushed him to the emergency department at Vassar Brothers Medical
Center. X-rays revealed a right sub-capital femur fracture and right inferior and sub-pubic remi
fractures. Our client had to undergo a full right hip surgery with blood transfusion.

Our client had a multi-day hospital admission before he was discharged to an inpatient therapy
program where he stayed for six weeks. He recovered from the hip injury and adapted to the
hip prosthetic, but he subsequently began to show signs of a severe neurologic injury to his
spinal cord. He was diagnosed with foot drop and severe spinal damage. He was referred to a
spine surgeon and remained “totally disabled as a result of this injury” according to multiple

Our client finally received spin surgery almost two years after the accident. The spine surgery
did succeed in reducing his pain, but the numbness in his leg and foot drop remained. In order
to walk, he must wear a leg brace that supports his foot.

John argued the accident occurred due to the general negligence of all parties, but the
transportation company violated the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act. For that reason, John
targeted the transportation for its negligent conduct and federal regulatory violations. John
retained a safety expert who concluded the trailer was not suitable for the load and lacked
deck-mounted anchor points to adequately secure the load.

John obtained an extraordinary settlement on behalf of his clients. He arrived at the
settlement figure through dedication and experience. He spent months investigating the
accident. He worked hired multiple experts and disbursed firm resources to get to the truth.

Moreover, Basch and Keegan never hesitated to invest the resources necessary to win. The
transportation company’s liability insurance company had made numerous unreasonable
settlements over the course of two years. The insurance company eventually capitulated and
offered its entire $1 million policy one week before trial. The general contractor and steel
manufacturer settled out for a combined $68,500, totaling $1,068,500.

This accident had a profound impact on the life of our client. John’s knowledge of the law,
investigative abilities, and diligence is what got our client the settlement.