Bridgeport Construction Contractor Killed in Excavator Accident

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1191102_11218510_01202012.jpgA 39 year-old construction contractor was killed the afternoon of Sunday, January 8, 2012, when he was thrown from the excavator he was operating and pinned between it and a building. Firefighters responded at 4:00 p.m. to a report that a man was wedged between his equipment and the wall of a building. The machine, a Bobcat excavator, apparently rolled onto him after he was somehow ejected from it. Rescuers used air bags to lift them machine off of him, a process that took almost twelve minutes. The man’s chest was crushed, and firefighters were unable to revive him. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

The man was the owner and sole full-time employee of a construction company. The Bridgeport Housing Authority hired a construction company to perform work at the site and believes they subcontracted the man’s company. A spokesperson for the housing authority said that they do not normally authorize construction work on weekends.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it will conduct a preliminary investigation to attempt to determine what caused the accident. This investigation will also determine whether OSHA has jurisdiction to look into the matter further. OSHA is a federal agency contained within the Department of Labor. Its general mission is to establish and enforce workplace safety standards. Construction sites often present complicated issues for OSHA regulators and anyone else interested in workplace safety, including personal injury attorneys, since they often involve multiple businesses and an intricate web of contractual relationships. Determining an individual worker’s employment relationship can be difficult, not to mention determining who has primary responsibility over a particular area or function at a site.

Construction accidents also present a complex set of legal issues, since so many types of accidents can occur. A person injured in a construction accident may be able to make a claim under several legal theories, provided a liable party can be identified. These may include ordinary negligence, premises liability, or products liability. Under ordinary negligence, an injured person must prove four elements: that the defendant owed the person a duty of care, that the defendant breached that duty, that the breach actually caused the injury, and that the person suffered measurable damages. On a construction site, workers owe a basic duty of care to one another to perform their job duties in a reasonably safe manner. A worker who does something unsafe that causes injury to another could be liable for that person’s damages.

Lawsuits Against Hospital over Doctor Abuse are Nearing Settlement

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1334532_48594781_01062012.jpgSt. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford is nearing a settlement of seventeen pending lawsuits relating to horrific accounts of sexual abuse of children by a doctor there between 1963 and 1993. The hospital’s insurance company is attempting to limit liability by characterizing the claim as one of medical malpractice, rather than general liability. The hospital has already settled several dozen claims related to the doctor’s conduct, and it still faces at least forty-eight more lawsuits after these seventeen settle.

Dr. George Reardon began working at St. Francis in 1963, and became the chief of endocrinology in 1978. He had previously worked at a hospital in Albany beginning in 1956. A lawsuit filed in 1987 accused him of abusing a brother and sister, aged 5 and 7, for a period of at least five years at the Albany hospital.

Another lawsuit accused Reardon of abusing a boy at St. Francis while he was a patient between 1964 and 1965. The boy filed a lawsuit years later that settled for a “modest” amount. A suit filed in 1989 accused Reardon of abusing a 10 year-old girl in the mid-1970’s, and a complaint brought by the Hartford County Medical Association alleged abuse of a 14 year-old girl. The state medical board suspended his license in July 1993, but they reinstated it that November on the condition that he not treat patients under the age of eighteen without supervision by another doctor or nurse. Reardon retired one month later.

Most of the alleged abuse occurred with children participating in a thirty-year growth study run by Dr. Reardon. An FBI investigation in 1994 concluded that any alleged sexual abuse occurred outside of the criminal statute of limitations. St. Francis officials defended Reardon and maintained that the complaints lacked merit. Reardon died of a heart attack in 1998.

On May 20, 2007, the new owner of Reardon’s former residence, while performing renovations in the basement, found a collection of over 60,000 sexually explicit photographs of children. West Hartford police announced the find that November, stating that they would attempt to identify the victims. Former patients, mostly now middle-aged, almost immediately began to come forward with accounts of abuse while under Dr. Reardon’s care. The hospital and 135 former patients agreed to mediation in March 2008. After mediation failed, the lawsuits began. They now total more than ninety. Police would eventually identify more than 250 children in the photographs.