LOCKE v. THE CITY OF SEATTLE
DATE OF INCIDENT: June, 2000
DATE OF TRIAL: July, 2004
Personal Injury: Vertebrae fractures, leg & foot fractures, emotional distress, permanent and severe injuries
LIABILITY: EMPLOYER NEGLIGENCE
Result: PLAINTIFF VERDICT FOR $1,800,000
Plaintiff: Mr. Charles Fabyan, Firefighter Training and Operations Expert, Battalion Chief John A. Gablehouse, Seattle Fire Department-Safety Officer, Deputy Chief John Lapansky, Northshore Fire Department-Training Division, Ron Gotts, Eastside Fire and Rescue, Professor Clifford F. Mass, U of W Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Lowell Bassett, Ph.D. ,Bassett, Parks & Silberg, Economic Consultants, Dr. Bradford M. Henley, Harborview Medical Center, Orthopedic and Podiatry Clinic, Dr. Bruce J. Sangeorzan, Harborview Medical Center, Dr. Richard Arnold, UW Physicians, Dr. Jeff Hummel. UW Physicians, Dr. Jonathan Keeve, Harborview Medical Center, Dr. Alexandra Schmidt, Harborview Medical Center, Dr. D. J. Roberts, Harborview Medical Center, Daniel L. Drane, Ph.D., Neuropsychologist, Harborview Medical Center, Ivar Birkland, MD, Medical Consultants Network, Joseph Robin, MD, Medical Consultants Network, John Hamm, MD, Medical Consultants Network, Theodore J. Becker, Ph.D., RPT, ATC, CET,CDE, Human Performance Specialist, Everett Pacific Industrial Rehabilitation, Mr. Kent Shafer, OSC Vocational Rehabilitation Systems, Inc., Lorraine Black, RN, A-1 Medical Services, Inc., In-home nursing. Alishire, RN, Airlift N.W., Richard Anderson, M.D., Lila Alexander ARNP, Jamie Compton, Certified Advanced Rolfer, Jeff Stuart, Physical Therapist, HealthSouth Everett, Kayo King, Acupuncture, Dr. Hollie Levine, Naturopath, Deborah Nedelman, PhD. Psychologist, Vicki Rosenau, Licensed Massage Therapist, Visiting Nurse Services NW, Jean Reynolds, P.T., Kay Wagner, Licensed Massage Therapist.
Plaintiff: David Wieck & John L. O’Brien, of O’Brien, Barton, Wieck & Joe, Issaquah, WA
Defendant: Gregory D. Fuller, City of Seattle, Seattle, WA
TRIAL JUDGE: Hon. Michael Spearman
PRIMARY INJURY: Vertebra Fractures, Leg & Feet Fractures
A male fire dispatcher suffered multiple vertebra fractures and fractures to both his legs and both feet when he fell from a 35-foot ladder approximately 30 feet to the ground during a training session for firefighters, run by the defendant city. The plaintiff contended that the defendant failed to provide a safe workplace, failed to provide adequate training to its employees, that he became faint because of the warm weather and lack of proper rest breaks and water and failed to properly supervise the training site or appoint a safety officer to ensure the safety of its personnel. The plaintiff further contended that the mannequins he was to rescue were old and decrepit and that the arms and legs kept getting caught in the ladder rungs and that due to his injuries; he was unable to become a firefighter and is now a dispatcher for the fire company. Plaintiff alleged 35 workplace safety violations against the city. The defendant denied liability and contended that the plaintiff negligently failed to relieve himself from the training when he felt unwell and that his injuries were due to his own negligence. Defendant further alleged that the state statute giving fire fighters and police officers the right to sue their employers in excess of the limits set by the Department of Labor and Industries for other employers was unconstitutional.
The verdict was upheld at the Court of Appeals, Locke v. City of Seattle, 133 Wash. App.696 (2006) & at the State Supreme Court, Locke v. City of Seattle,162 Wash. 2d 474 (2007).