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Miami-Dade County, FL

The plaintiff worked as a porter (cleaner) for an independent contractor hired by the defendant, Burger King Corp. The plaintiff suffered an eye injury after a chemical degreaser splashed into his eye while cleaning one of the defendant’s overhead broilers. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant was negligent in failing to provide a safety shield to protect the plaintiff’s face while he was working. The defendant argued that the protective face shields were available, but the plaintiff chose not to use one. The defense also maintained that the accident was caused by the plaintiff’s own negligence.

The plaintiff was a 33-year-old man at the time of the incident in ________. He was legally blind in his left eye as a result of a childhood accident in his native country of Cuba, when a nail from a nail gun penetrated his cornea. The plaintiff testified that, although he was legally blind, he could see shadows through his left eye.

On the night of the incident, the plaintiff was working alone and was on a ladder to clean an overhead broiler at the defendant’s fast food restaurant. The plaintiff testified that some of the chemical degreaser he was using splashed out of the bottle into his left eye. The plaintiff contended that, as a result of the chemical exposure, he required surgical removal of his left eye and was fitted with a glass one. The plaintiff was divorced with one minor child at the time of injury.

The plaintiff testified that he had asked the defendant for a safety mask prior to the injury, but the defendant did not supply one. The plaintiff also contended that he had advised the defendant that the caps of the bottles, in which the degreaser was kept were loose (the threads were bad), but the defendant failed to correct the situation.

The defendant argued that safety equipment – including face shields – was available for the plaintiff’s use. The defense contended that the plaintiff was not properly trained by his employer, was careless in handling the chemical degreaser, and should have warn a protective face mask. The plaintiff’s employer (which did not have workers’ compensation insurance), as well as the manufacturer of the chemical degreaser, were listed as Fabre defendants on the verdict form.

The defendant also argued that the plaintiff failed to seek timely medical attention, and did not present to a physician until three days after the incident. The plaintiff testified that he had simply washed the eye out with water. The jury found the defendant 90% negligent, and the plaintiff 10% comparatively negligent. The jury found no negligence on the part of the Fabre defendant employer and degreaser manufacturer. The plaintiff was awarded $________ in damages, reduced accordingly. The plaintiff filed a proposal for settlement in the amount of $________ and claims entitlement to costs and attorney fees. The defendant offered $________ to settle the case prior to trial. The case is currently on appeal.

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