For over 50 years the construction of a secondary water supply from upstate reservoirs for city usage was under way. Part of the intricate design was a series of tunnels approximately 30 feet wide and 600 feet deep into the ground. Heavy machines winches were used at ground level as ground hog workers would work below the surface, almost 60 stories deep.
A 36 year old husband (our client) and father of two children was a ground hog working 600 feet below the surface, when a large multi-ton winch became dislodged from above. It fell from the top of the tunnel (600 feet in all), killing him instantly. It took 3 days to extricate his body. The tragic accident and the recovery was reported widely in the daily press and on television.
Since the construction company was a European corporation, we brought the action in the federal court, which provided for extensive discovery by way of depositions and document exchanges. And it was through our intensive depositions of company executives and employees that we ultimately discovered the cause of the accident: A worker had failed to secure the huge machine with a solid steel safety hold-down rod, causing the machine to move, and ultimately to plummet down the tunnel, with its tragic results.
The case was settled before a federal magistrate after intensive negotiations just prior to a jury being selected, (and not the federal district judge who would have presided had the case gone forward), for a sum that provided financial security to the decedent's wife and children for life.