Case Name: Mitchell vs. APAC, Inc. - Arkansas
Case #: CIV 2001-402-11
Court: Sebastian Co. Circuit Court
Judge or Jury: Jury
Type of Case: PI
Date of Incident: October 7, 1998
Date of Trial: March 18, 19, 20, 21, 2002
Wage Loss: $186,000.00 to $613,000.00
Initial Demand: $2,000,000.00
Offer: $0 before closing argument
Settlement: $650,000.00, plus settled around workers’ compensation carrier
Facts: At the time of the accident, Plaintiff was a 27 year old licensed blaster employed by Austin Powder Company performing blasting services at Defendant’s rock quarry in Van Buren, Arkansas. Defendant, the quarry operator, requested Plaintiff blast a section of rock outside a 70 foot crack which traversed across a corner at the top of the high wall. Before any blasting occurred, and while Plaintiff was preparing the area, this section of rock outside the crack suddenly fell with Plaintiff 70 feet fracturing his hip, shoulder and wrist. Plaintiff needs a hip replacement in the near future. At trial, Plaintiff proved the Defendant violated Mine, Safety and Health Administration in allowing persons to be in this area of the quarry. Defendant argued that Plaintiff, the blaster in charge, was aware of the condition and was contributorily negligent in proceeding to work in this area. The court allowed a punitive damage instruction and admitted Defendant’s financial statement into evidence after Plaintiff submitted proof that Defendant was aware of this dangerous condition before the accident and, nevertheless, directed Plaintiff to work in the area to maximize profits.
Comments: Defendant made no offer of settlement until closing arguments. After several hours of jury deliberation, parties reached an agreement to settle for $650,000.00 around the workers’ compensation carrier making Defendant responsible for the carrier’s lien, and entitling Plaintiff to continue drawing workers’ compensation benefits.