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State Supreme Court rules on workplace accident suits

Two Ohio workers have lost their suits against their separate employers for injuries they suffered. Though both were allowed to recover damages by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, the employers appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court. Due to this, their case has been watched by experts to observe how the highest court in the state would interpret a state workplace accident law passed in 2005. These rulings could be extremely important to any victims of construction accidents in Ohio.

One of the lawsuits was brought by a 45-year-old man from Maple Heights, Ohio. He was an apprentice lineman for L.E. Myers Co. at the time of his injury. According to reports, he was holding a piece of equipment that connected with an electrical wire carrying more than 7,000 volts. The electricity traveled down the piece of equipment and into his arm and hand. He sustained burns of all three degrees and was left with chronic pain and nerve damage. Because of the injuries, he is labeled as permanently disabled.

The second man-a 44-year-old from Cleveland who passed away last year-was working for ThyssenKrupp Materials at a warehouse in Cleveland when a sideloader pulling items from the warehouse shelves crushed him. The incident occurred in 2008. His right leg was amputated.

Attorneys for the first plaintiff argued that his employer told him that leather gloves were okay to wear on the job. Instead, he should have been in possession of rubberized gloves to mitigate any electrical shocks. This was not the case and a county court awarded him nearly $600,000. The appeals court upheld the decision, but it was overturned by the Supreme Court because the new law reportedly says that an employer can only be held accountable for protective guards that have been removed from equipment-not items such as gloves.

In order to hold an employer responsible, plaintiffs must prove that the employer removed such safety guards or acted with intent to injure an employee.

Source: Cleveland.com, "2 workers who were severely hurt on the job not entitled to damages, Ohio Supreme Court says," Alison Grant, Dec. 10, 2012

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