A construction worker claimed he fell 30 feet while building the stage for the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia. Brian Crowthers, a stagehand for Tri-Stage Staging, suffered “head trauma, broken ribs and a ruptured spleen,” and according to Forbes, is suing Mountain Productions Services for “improper fall protection and prevention” measures, as well as the NFL and ESPN for negligence, claiming they “failed to hire a competent outfit to build the stage.”
The stage in question was located near the Rocky steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where the NFL Draft took place. While it was outside, there was a temporary stage built surrounding the steps.
Crowthers, a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Union, Local No. 8, alleges that fall safety precautions for the project were not implemented or largely ignored in an effort to make sure that construction of the amphitheater was complete in time for ESPN’s live broadcasts of the NFL Draft.
According to the lawsuit, Crowthers fell about 30 feet onto the stage below and suffered major injuries including loss of consciousness, closed head trauma, memory and concentration problems, several fractures, a ruptured spleen and lung hemorrhage.
Within the lawsuit, it’s noted that Mountain Productions Services has been slapped with multiple OSHA violations “for several violations of scaffold safety and fall protection,” which is similar to what Crowthers is alleging in his suit. Crowthers is seeking “in excess of $50,000 from each defendant as well as punitive damages.”
Right now, the location of where this is tried becomes rather important to the potential outcome. The lawsuit is currently in the midst of a tug-of-war of whether or not it goes to federal court or the Philadelphia state court. The NFL got the case transferred to federal court, while Crowthers wants it sent back to state court.
If the case goes back to state court, it could be good news for Crowthers. Forbes noted that the court has a history of giving high amounts in punitive damages and has a reputation for being “unfair to corporate defendants.” During suits for pelvic mesh and Xarelto (like those ads you see on TV about getting people to join class action lawsuits), plaintiffs received $25 million and $28 million, respectively, in punitive damages, though Crowthers isn’t seeking that kind of money.