$1.2M Verdict to Family of Construction Worker Killed at Ski Resort
By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq. on February 21st, 2016
The family of an excavation vehicle driver who was killed when his articulated hauler ran over him as it backed down a steep hill at a ski resort has been awarded a $1.2 million verdict by a Carbon County, Pa., jury.
The driver, Victor Bortz, died in September 2011 when the articulated hauler he was backing up struck a ski lift tower, knocking him out of the vehicle and under its wheels at the Blue Mountain Ski Resort, according to a Jan. 30 story in The Legal Intelligencer. Bortz, who was 49 at the time of the incident, was working on the site as part of a ski slope expansion, the story said. The hauler had traveled up the hill about 25 feet carrying about a half load of soil, then backed down a steep, 30-foot embankment before striking the ski lift tower.
Another excavator for the project told investigators that “the angle of the hill had scared him,” and Bortz’s boss also “testified that he had been concerned about the hill,” the story reported. Bortz, his co-worker and his boss had discussed their concerns with a representative from The Tuthill Corp., which owns Blue Mountain Ski Resort, but the Tuthill representative “directed Bortz and his co-worker on the route,” according to the story.
Bortz had “been told to back the truck down the hill because there was a concern that the truck might tip over when trying to turn around on the steep slope,” according to a plaintiff’s memo in the case, the story reported. “Bortz made an initial attempt to go up the hill, but his truck stopped and he slowly backed down the hill, the memo said. Bortz was then told to keep the hauler in first gear and ‘floor it and not leave off the accelerator pedal,’ the memo said. After Bortz made his first successful trip up the hill, the supervisors left the area.”
Bortz and his co-worker “continued to discuss how dangerous the project was over the radio,” the plaintiff’s memo stated, but the actual incident that led to his death was not witnessed by anyone at the scene, the story reported. “The memo argued the grade of the slope exceeded the reasonable standards for the industry, and lacked a safety berm to protect runaway vehicles.”
Bortz’s wife, Patricia, who is the administrator of his estate, was awarded $341,250 for wrongful-death claims in the case and $879,009 for survival claims, the story reported. The jury found The Tuthill Corp. to be 71 percent liable in the case, while Bortz was found to be 29 percent liable.
These kinds of tragic legal cases occur every day when innocent victims are severely hurt or killed in construction accidents or vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions, inattentiveness or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.
We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a construction accident, vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.
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