Civil Plaintiff

Man Killed Due to Workplace Negligence at Wilkins Rebuilders Supply, Inc. Results in $13.5 Million Settlement

On August 24, 2018, a bus to be scrapped was left in front of the normal drop off location and was partially in the roadway of the scrap yard. The Truck Inventory Specialist, Arlen J. Bradley, 18 years old (Wilkins employee), was responsible to check the dropped off buses for parts that could be salvaged by going under the bus to look. When the bus was delivered to the wrong location, Bradley went under the bus to check it.

Armando San Martin (Brookfield employee) was stacking cars to one side of the yard. He also was responsible to keep the yard clear and organized. When San Martin saw the bus in the roadway, he went to move the bus, and pushed the bus approximately 20 feet to the staging area off the roadway. This was a normal task. San Martin did not know that Bradley was under the bus and Bradley was crushed by the back wheels. He survived for several seconds. There was no established procedure for notifying the material handlers when the Truck Inventory Specialists would be in the yard and not visible around the scrap buses.

The companies involved were the Wilkins Rebuilders Supply, Inc., and Brookfield Iron & Metal LLC both work at the same site. The Wilkins Rebuilders Supply, Inc. recycles the vehicle parts. The Truck Inventory Specialist (Bradley) worked for Wilkins. Most of the Wilkins employees work in the warehouse. Brookfield Iron & Metal LLC runs the scrap yard and the recycling operation. All the material handlers are Brookfield employees. The companies are owned by the same Wilkins family. The companies had an outside safety consultant (Horton) that came out monthly and trained both Wilkins and Brookfield employees at the same time. The safety audits of Horton clearly establish that it addressed scrapyard safety.

The Truck Inventory Specialist, Arlen J. Bradley, was required to perform this bus check 6-7 times per day. The bus check-in takes about 45 minutes including the information being filled in the computer inventory. According to the yard foreman, the employee needed to be under the bus for approximately 5-15 minutes since he was new at the job (employed for 6 weeks). The deceased employee did not have a company supplied device, e.g., radio, to call in what he was doing or where he was. There was no area marked off for the bus staging area.

After the bus was checked in by the Truck Inventory Specialist, the Specialist marked the bus to be cut up. The bus would then be pushed with a spotter to steer the bus to the dismantling area. The loader operators were trained and did preshift inspections of the vehicles.

There was no formal procedure for the employees working around the buses. There was no procedure in place to ascertain when an employee was under the bus. The loader operator did not have a procedure for checking for people when moving cars or buses. The loader operators were responsible to tidy up the yard which may bring them away from the regular assigned task of moving or stacking certain scrap. There was no procedure for them to check areas for people before moving other scrap such as the buses.
The load operator did not follow elemental heavy equipment operator safety when he failed to G.O.A.L. (Get Out and Look).

Brookfield Iron & Metal LLC and Armando San Martin initially raised loaned servant as an affirmative defense, claiming Wilkins Rebuilders Supply, Inc. temporarily borrowed Arlen J. Bradley to Brookfield Iron & Metal LLC. Conversely, the evidence established that Bradley was not borrowed to Brookfield Iron & Metal LLC on the day of the occurrence, but took his orders from Wilkins Rebuilders Supply, Inc. supervisors.

The Horton Group, Inc. file was subpoenaed prior to adding it as a party defendant. It’s Safety Audit in 2012 showed evidence of scrapyard safety training. In its report of the occurrence, it admitted it conducted Heavy Operator Equipment Training in December 2017.

Attorneys Edward G. Willer, Francis Patrick Murphy, and Thomas A. Demetrio, of Corboy & Demetrio, P.C., represented Mr. Bradley’s family in this matter. A settlement was reached for this case on December 30, 2022 for $13,500,000.

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