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Essex County, NJ

This case involved a 59-year-old compression repairman, who was not in the course of his employment when he installed an industrial compressor at a woodworking company who was a defaulting defendant. The woodworking company acquired the compressor from the defendant prior owner. The plaintiff claimed that when the plaintiff turned on the compressor after installation, metal corrosion caused the compressor vessel to rupture.

The plaintiff maintained that the prior owner, who had closed its plant, had given the compressor to its employee who in turn gave it to the woodworking company after the effective date of provisions in the Administrative Code that mandated registration of such compressors. The plaintiff’s expert mechanical engineer concluded that the defendant prior owner should have inspected the device under both the Code and industry standards. The expert maintained that a proper inspection would have revealed that the compressor was dangerous and that there was a great risk of such an explosion occurring if it was turned on upon installation.

The defendant prior owner maintained that it had not used the compressor for some years and it had been turned over to the woodworking company prior to the effective date of the Code provision, denying that it breached any duty. The plaintiff maintained that the woodworking company had been given the compressor after the effective date of the code provision. The defendant also maintained that the plaintiff was comparatively negligent. The plaintiff would have countered that he worked in the field of repair and that an installation would not alert him to internal corrosion that caused the explosion.

The plaintiff also claimed that irrespective of the duty to inspect, it was clear that the defendant failed to properly maintain the compressor when it was using it. The plaintiff asserted that proper maintenance would have prevented this corrosion that resulted in the incident, from occurring.

The plaintiff suffered severe injuries to the left leg and required a below-the-knee amputation during the five week hospitalization. The plaintiff has been fitted with a prosthetic device. He maintained that he suffers phantom pain in the left leg. The plaintiff also sustained compound comminuted fractures of the tibia and fibula, as well as a bimalleolar fracture of the right ankle and required an open reduction and the installation of hardware.

The plaintiff had 14 months of out-patient physical rehabilitation. The plaintiff contended that he has great difficulties walking and ambulates using the prosthesis along with crutches or a walker. The plaintiff claimed that he is permanently unemployable and the plaintiff’s economist projected losses of approximately $________.The case settled prior to trial $________.

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