Dos Santos v. WhiteWater West Industries
Date of Verdict: Dec. 11.
Court and Case No.: C.P. Lehigh No. 2016-C-2841.
Judge: Edward D. Reibman.
Type of Action: Personal injury.
Injuries: Crushed leg.
Plaintiffs Counsel: Tyler Tomlinson and Joseph Cullen Jr., Stark & Stark.
Defense Counsel: Geoffrey Norton, Norton & Melnik.
A man whose leg was crushed during the construction of a new attraction in a Pennsylvania amusement park has agreed to settle his claims for $2.75 million.
Plaintiff Anthony Dos Santos agreed to settle his claims against WhiteWater West Industries, which manufactures equipment for water parks, after a portion of his leg was amputated due to the crush injury. The case, Dos Santos v. WhiteWater West Industries, was being litigated in the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas, with Judge Edward D. Reibman presiding.
The case stems from a 2014 accident in Dorney Park in Allentown. According to the plaintiff’s pretrial statement, Dos Santos, who was 23 at the time, was part of a three-man construction crew transporting a 40-foot steel column with a forklift. The memo said that WhiteWater West Industries had been hired to manufacture and install the water slide complex at Dorney Park. The company also subcontracted with Dos Santos’ employer, KP Construction, the memo said.
The memo said that, while one of the workers operated the forklift, Dos Santos and another worker held taglines and walked in front of the beam. As the crew proceeded through the park, the forklift operator stopped the vehicle to let another vehicle pass, the memo said. Because of the movement of the beam, Dos Santos was pulled in front of the forklift, the memo said, but as he attempted to move back into his position, the forklift operator took his foot off the brake and the vehicle ran over Dos Santos’ foot and leg.
According to the memo, Dos Santos was taken by ambulance to Lehigh Valley Hospital, where his leg was amputated several inches below the knee. Dos Santos subsequently underwent several additional surgeries, including procedures to remove dead tissue and to help fit Dos Santos with a prosthesis. He also suffered infections and phantom pains.
Dos Santos contended that WhiteWater West Industries failed to have a supervisor on site, and that the company failed to monitor to ensure that the beams were being safely transported. The memo also said that, in the months leading up to the accident, emails between WhiteWater and Dorney Park said that the project was difficult because of “sharp turns” and “tight corners.”
In his memo, Dos Santos contended that a truck should have been used to transport the column.
The plaintiff hired Vincent Gallagher as a construction safety expert and Thomas Cocchiola as a mechanical engineering expert. Counsel for Dos Santos also planned to call rehabilitation expert Guy Fried and psychiatrist Kenneth Weiss had the case gone to trial.
Whitewater contended in its pretrial memo that the job was routine and similar to the more than 100 jobs it had previously worked on with KP Construction. The company also contended that the subcontractor’s employees selected the means for transporting the beam.
Whitewater also contended that it could not be sued because it was Dos Santos’ statutory employer.
Although Dorney Park’s parent company had been sued, it was later let out of the case on summary judgment.
Stark & Stark attorney Tyler Tomlinson was lead attorney representing Dos Santos, with assistance from Joseph Cullen Jr. and Ian Abovitz.
“There was a much safer way to transport columns through the park, one that would not have presented hazards,” Tomlinson said in a statement to the press. “Unfortunately, there also was not a supervisor on-site, as required by the contract, and the crew was understaffed.”
Counsel for WhiteWater, Geoffrey Norton of Norton & Melnik, said in an emailed statement that, “WhiteWater was neither at the scene of the accident nor involved in the transportation of materials that led to the accident.”
He also noted that the company is pursuing an insurance claim against the subcontractor’s carrier.
—Max Mitchell, of the Law Weekly