Pratt Clay, LLC Obtains $44 Million Jury Verdict

On Behalf of | Sep 30, 2015 | Firm News |

The verdict is the largest award for a unilateral amputee

Angleton, Texas – On May 6th, 2015, Pratt Clay, LLC (formerly Chuck Clay & Associates) earned an unprecedented $44-million jury verdict. Nationally, this historical verdict is the largest of its kind.

“We are grateful that the jury recognized the magnitude and severity of the loss suffered by an amazing family,” said Chuck Clay, founder of Pratt Clay, LLC. “After twenty months of litigation and various unsuccessful attempts to reach a settlement, we were honored to take this case to trial in order to obtain fair damages for our clients.”

Pratt Clay, LLC won the case on behalf of a young man and his family. The gentleman lost his leg because a crane was overloaded, collapsed, and caused a heavy structure to fall on top of him.

The three-week trial took place in Brazoria County, Texas. The jury learned details of the incident during the course of the trial.

A series of poor decisions and deviations from policy led to an auger becoming stuck 90 feet in the ground. When members of the foundation drilling crew recognized that the auger was a lost cause, their site superintendent carelessly demanded that his 21 year-old crane operator keep trying to free the auger by pulling with a large crane.

This eventually caused the crane to collapse and sent several heavy pieces of equipment to the ground. One of the pieces landed on the plaintiff while he was standing 100 feet away behind a safety fence. The fallen steel required an additional crane just to move if off the plaintiff. Once he was freed, he was rushed to a local a hospital where doctors had no choice but to amputate his crushed left leg. A few days later, the plaintiff underwent a second operation that rendered him an above-the-knee amputee.

“This accident is a tragedy. Our client who lost his leg will lead a full life, but it will never be the same. It was absolutely preventable absent the defendants’ negligence and the cavalier decisions by Berkel’s supervisor,” said Clay. “We can’t go back in time, but we can help our client move forward with the necessary resources so that he may benefit from the best medical care and state of the art prosthetic technologies.”

The jury determined that both Berkel & Company Contractors, Inc. and Maxim Crane Works, L.P. owed the plaintiffs damages.

“After nearly two years of studying the incident from every angle, Kurt Arnold and I were able to provide the jury with a really compelling account of the entire event,” said Clay. “The order of witnesses was critical. By the time the superintendent was called to testify, the jurors already knew what really happened, and they were angered by his blatant refusal to take responsibility. We emphasized repeated warnings from the crane operator, the crew and the crane itself. The story that unfolded revealed multiple violations of safety practices in the reckless pursuit of cutting costs and saving time.”

Atlanta-based Pratt Clay, LLC and Houston-based Arnold & Itkin collaborated on this case from start to finish. Justin Gilbert from the Angleton, Texas firm Gilbert & Furey later joined the team as local counsel.