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Missouri Attorneys Prevail for Client Following Construction Site Incident

St. Louis Partner Brian K. McBrearty and Attorney Lori A. Schmidt prevailed in the Ste. Genevieve County Courthouse on behalf of our insurance company client’s construction development company insured.

Two of our client’s construction worker employees were setting trusses while building a pole barn when one or more of the trusses suddenly broke, causing the workers and 85 trusses to fall 30 feet to the concrete floor. As a result, the employees suffered severe injuries, including a leg injury that resulted in a knee amputation and a broken back, severe traumatic brain injury that required one of the employees to stay in the hospital for several months, cervical fracture requiring a fusion, T-12 L1 spinal burst fracture requiring a four-level fusion and other orthopedic injuries. Following the incident, the employees filed suit against the truss designer, the truss manufacturer and the retailer of the trusses.

The first defendant settled for $1 million, and a dispute arose over the distribution of the proceeds under Missouri Law. As a result of this dispute, our client and Plaintiffs entered into a written agreement regarding the distribution and payment of any remaining lien in the event there was a settlement or verdict involving the remaining civil defendant.

The civil case proceeded to trial against the remaining defendant. A jury verdict of more than $20 million was made earlier in 2023, and the civil defendants appealed and eventually settled the case. Our client had a remaining $1.5 million workers’ compensation lien. Our St. Louis defense attorneys, Brian McBrearty and Lori Schmidt, requested the entire lien per our client’s previous negotiated agreement with Plaintiffs, who argued that under existing statutes, our client was not entitled to all of the lien. Both parties filed declaratory judgment actions, and our defense attorneys claimed that under the applicable statute and prior agreement, our client was entitled to the entire lien.

The St. Genevieve County Circuit Court agreed that our attorneys’ written agreement applied, and in October 2023 the judge granted our petition and awarded more than $1.4 million to satisfy our client’s workers’ compensation lien.

Brian focuses his practice on insurance defense litigation, workers’ compensation, civil liability and construction accident matters. His practice includes defending self-insured and insured trucking companies throughout the states of Missouri and Illinois.

Lori focuses her practice in the areas of insurance coverage and general liability defense. She has a broad range of experience evaluating and defending state and federal cases throughout Missouri and Illinois.