Wrongful death lawsuit filed over fatal accident at Tennessee construction plant

by Charles Miller

Last May, Larry Chubbs was working at Tag Manufacturing, a company that manufactures large steel parts for construction equipment. Chubbs ran a blaster machine called a Wheelabrator that cleaned large pieces of steel. His job involved walking out onto a catwalk panel to blow off the parts emerging from the cleaner and hook them with a large nylon strap.

Chubbs was killed when a metal-grating floor panel he was walking on gave way, according to a lawsuit filed by his son. Chubbs fell into a machine called the Big Blaster, where an auger ground and amputated his legs to his torso. He died of extreme blood loss at the scene.

Two hours after his fall, workers noticed Chubbs missing from a morning meeting. His shirt and hat were found near the machine. His body was found in the machine with the fallen panel. The lawsuit alleges that the company failed to install, secure and repair the metal grating floor panels.

In November 2012, the Tennessee Department of Labor fined TAG $16,000 for safety violations in connection with Chubb’s death. The company was cited for five safety violations deemed “serious” and an additional nine “non-serious” citations. “TAG did not furnish employment or a place of employment that were free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees, in that employees were exposed to the hazard of falling into the [machine],” the main citation states.

The state examiner claimed that none of the panels on the catwalk was welded, bolted or bracketed in place. The panels would only have to shift slightly for them to fall, the examiner said. Several witnesses told the investigators they had noticed the rickety panels before. In one case, a worker took it upon himself to straighten a bent panel. “I remember being [irritated] because it could fall,” said the witness, who was not identified in the report.

Falls are a persistent hazard found in all occupational settings. According to the 2009 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 605 workers were killed and an estimated 212,760 workers were seriously injured by falls to the same or lower level.

Circumstances associated with fall incidents in the work environment frequently involve slippery, cluttered, or unstable walking/working surfaces; unprotected edges; floor holes and wall openings; unsafely positioned ladders; and misused fall protection. Federal regulations and industry standards provide specific measures and performance-based recommendations for fall prevention and protection. However, persistent unsafe practices and low safety culture across many industries define steady fall injury rates year after year.

To successfully bring about a claim involving a fall or dangerous machinery in the workplace, clients need an experienced, educated attorney on their side. They also need an attorney with the financial resources to take the case to trial. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have tried literally hundreds of cases to verdict and have settled hundreds more. In 2010 alone, we negotiated settlements of personal injury and wrongful death claims totaling more than $50 million.

Workplace Injury Lawsuits Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson

If you or a loved has suffered serious injury or death from a workplace accident or injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for your free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal right to compensation.

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