Experienced Underground Foreman/Heavy Equipment Operator Loses Foot in Conveyor Belt Injury
On November 22, 2013, 37-year-old Jason Gilmer, an experienced underground foreman and heavy equipment operator, was working to replace a portion of sewer pipe for the City of Martinez, California, when his foot became trapped in a conveyor belt used to flatten sewer liners for “trenchless rehabilitations.” Heavy rollers on the conveyor belt crushed his foot and ankle, ultimately requiring Mr. Gilmer to have all of his toes and the majority of his foot amputated.
Mr. Gilmer and his co-workers at California Trenchless, Inc. (CTI) were working in Martinez, California, replacing sewer pipes by means of relining the existing pipes with resin-filled liners. To flatten any bulges, the liners were run through rollers on a conveyor CTI had leased through FerraTex and Spiniello Companies. CTI employed several former Spiniello employees, who taught Mr. Gilmer and his team to disengage the safety lock on the conveyor to allow bulges in the liner to pass through the rollers without shutting down the conveyor.
Without the safety lock engaged, Mr. Gilmer was smoothing out large bulges as he had been shown to do, when his foot got caught in the rollers. Despite pressing the stop button on the conveyor’s remote control, his colleagues were unable to stop the conveyor. As a result, Mr. Gilmer’s foot was trapped, crushed, and degloved.
Mr. Gilmer alleged that Spiniello and FerraTex were extremely careless regarding their obligations to provide a safe product to their customers and warn of safety issues with their equipment.
The defendants denied responsibility for Mr. Gilmer’s accident and instead blamed both him and CTI for his injuries.
Mr. Gilmer’s foot and ankle were crushed by the conveyor belt rollers. In the days, weeks, and months that followed, Mr. Gilmer suffered from bone infections and necrosis of the toes and foot. He eventually had to undergo multiple surgeries to amputate all of his toes and most of his foot. He is permanently disfigured and will require prostheses for the rest of his life.
Mr. Gilmer settled with the defendants for a total of $6.5M.