Brian Richeson was a healthy middle aged man that enjoyed an active lifestyle with his two teenage sons. They went fishing, target shooting, camping, off-roading, played catch, wrestled, went to movies, shopping, and attended their school functions, including his son’s football games. Mr. Richeson enjoyed the company of his girlfriend, friends and family.

The Day of the Accident

On August 7, 2008, Brian Richeson was sent to the UCR construction site by his employer to remove some old fire sprinkler pipe located above the second floor ceiling. Prior to JG Tate scheduling Plaintiff to do this work it first confirmed with Tovey/Shultz that the second floor ceiling would be removed so that Richeson could remove the pipe from below working off a ladder. When Richeson and his apprentice showed up on the UCR jobsite the ceiling had not been demolished.

Nevertheless, Richeson was told he needed to remove the pipes and “get the job done.” Since Richeson had been on the UCR jobsite two months prior removing old sprinkler heads from above the second floor ceiling (via the roof) he knew his option was to access the pipes from the roof. Richeson climbed the ladder Tovey/Shultz had permanently placed on the second floor in order for workers to access the roof and located the pipes they needed to remove.

Richeson walked on the plywood catwalks from the ladder over to a pony wall near this mechanical shaft; which was covered with a piece of plywood. It was Richeson’s intent to work from this platform by cutting the pipe into sections and then lowering it down with rope. As he swung his legs over the pony wall onto the sheet of plywood, he first tested it with his right foot and then placed his left foot on the board. At this point, the board flipped up and he plummeted to the floor below.

Summary of the Plaintiff’s Case

• Tovey/Shultz was responsible for safety on the project and failed to maintain a safe workplace.
• Tovey/Shultz only has evidence of two safety walks during the approximate 24 months it took to renovate the building.
• Tovey/Shultz failed to remove the ceiling as promised prior to Mr. Richeson being sent to the UCR jobsite; which required him to work from the roof.
• Tovey/Shultz built “amateurish and dangerous” catwalks that had no railings and were only two feet wide. The only reason Tovey/Shultz did not lay down full 4-foot x 8-foot sheets of plywood was to save money.
• Most important, Tovey/Shultz failed to secure the sheets of plywood on the roof on multiple occasions.

General Damages

As a result of the accident Mr. Richeson could not attend his son’s junior high school graduation, or any parent/teacher conferences. Mr. Richeson was so seriously injured that he is not even able to sit on the concrete bleachers for more than 10 minutes at his son’s school to watch his high school football games and he cannot lift more than 20 pounds. Currently, he can only drive approximately 10 miles, then he has to lay down due to the severe pain in his back from being vertical with pressure on his spine. Unfortunately, he has been advised by his physician that his condition will progressively worsen.

Settlement Discussions

Plaintiff rejected the offer of $2 million and countered with $11 million (policy limits of Tovey/Shultz). Richeson was awarded the $11 million.