Attorney Melissa Brennan helped an injured union mason steward to get the largest court judgment so far this year – a $26.6 million that totals $45 million with interest – during a jury trial that ended on Aug. 4 and found the contractor liable for the injury.
Brennan, a life-long Charlestown resident who is with Feinberg, Dumont and Brennan, has been working on the case for the last four years after long-time Local 3 Bricklayer union member John Rooney, Jr., came to her with his workplace injury case that dated back to 2014 during rehabilitation construction on the Longfellow Bridge.
Brennan worked on the case, and as it went to trial, brought in the Keches Law Group.
She said she sat second-chair in the case, with Keches’s Andrew Abraham leading the way on the record judgement verdict.
“John’s had seven surgeries and is looking at more,” she said. “The majority of this verdict was for his pain and suffering because he’ll continue to need medical treatment. He’s permanently disabled and can’t go to work. We’re glad the jury was able to see how difficult this was for him.
“It doesn’t fix his health or stop his pain,” she continued. “He lives in pain every day and his back is now made up of a lot of plates and screws. It’s definitely taken away his joy in life. He loved to SCUBA dive and was certified and he loved to golf and he can’t do those things anymore. While the verdict the jury gave was for his pain and suffering, it won’t change his health.”
Rooney had been a mason all his life, right out of high school, and his father was a union mason before him. On May 9, 2014, Rooney’s life changed forever. According to the case in Middlesex Superior Court, the steward fell over five feet through a two-foot hole in the scaffolding he was working on and landed violently on a pile of concrete debris. The scaffolding was not fully planked at the time of his fall in violation of state and federal safety regulations. This construction accident had significant consequences. The Steward sustained severe injuries to his back, neck, and legs. Upon medical evaluation, he had to endure seven spinal operations and nine total operations that resulted in his spine being largely fused together. A joint venture between three large construction companies was responsible for completing a restoration project on the historical landmark, including General Contractor JF White. The trial lasted eight days, and the jury deliberated for just under three hours.
“The Joint Venture in this case made promises to keep this job safe and did not keep these promises, leaving workers in danger. I hope this verdict will tell construction companies that safety regulations need to be followed and not forgotten,” said Attorney Abraham of the verdict. “No amount of money can undo the steward’s injuries; unfortunately, he will live with them forever, but this verdict will help tremendously with the quality of life for him and his family.”
According to Brennan, the Steward intends to use a portion of his recovery for a donation to the BAC Local #3 Apprentice & Training Center in recognition of the fact that he and his father have been proud members of Local 3 for a combined total of 100 years.
Attorney Brennan said what was most important to her client was to be heard in court.
“To me, I felt like John was really heard, which was important to me,” she said. “I felt good to be able to help him get such a great verdict and he won’t have to worry. He used to say he’d end up in a Nursing Home and now he’ll be able to take control of his health and provide for himself when he needs to.”
Feinberg, Dumont & Brennan is a partnership of Feinberg & Brennan, P.C. (founded in 1983) and Dumont, Morris & Burke, P.C. (founded in 1988) that represents a broad spectrum of labor unions, their members, and their affiliated pension and welfare benefit plans, including Teamster, Construction, IATSE, AFM, Longshoremen, Police, Firefighters, and Correction Officers.