Montgomery County Circuit Court Jury Awards $2M in Construction Site Death
August 7, 2011
By Danielle Ulman
A Montgomery County Circuit Court jury has awarded more than $2 million to the widower of a woman killed by a dump truck while she tried to navigate a construction area without an appropriate pedestrian path.
Yunshu Li, 74, and her husband, Xiufeng Wang, had gotten off the bus on Oct. 9, 2008, and were walking home in the closed curbside lane on Germantown Road in front of the West Germantown Fire Station, which was under construction, when a Hakes Contracting dump truck backed up and hit them both, killing Li and injuring Wang.
"It was a very, very close family and everyone is not really recovered from this. It's a terrible tragedy," said Richard A. Bussey, an attorney representing the Wangs.
Wang and his children, a son and five daughters, sued the Virginia-based general contractor, Milestone Construction Services, and subcontractor Hakes, based in Germantown, for the wrongful death of Li. Wang sued both for the injuries he suffered in the incident.
Robert B. Hetherington, an attorney representing Milestone and Hakes in the suit, could not be reached Friday. His firm, McCarthy Wilson LLC in Rockville, was closed for the day for a companywide retreat.
The Wang family argued that Milestone and Hakes failed to provide a path for pedestrians when they removed a portion of the existing sidewalk along the construction site of the Germantown/Kingsview Fire Station No. 22.
"There are rules -- the national rules, Maryland state rules and county rules for providing temporary traffic control at roadside construction sites, and here they failed to follow those rules," said Bussey, an attorney with Stein, Mitchell & Muse LLP in Washington, D.C.
"We feel that this will serve as a message to roadside construction contractors," he said. "People don't know what to do [at construction sites]. They require guidance."
The jury awarded the family $1.145 million in non-economic damages on the wrongful-death claim, including $70,000 for each of the Wang children. The total exceeds the state's non-economic damages cap and will be reduced by $80,000, Bussey said.
Xiufeng Wang also received $364,000 for his own injuries, $418,000 for the lost services of his wife and $105,000 for his wife's pre-impact pain and suffering and funeral expenses.
Wang suffered multiple injuries, including fractures to his arm, a fracture of the mid-back vertebrae, a broken tooth, a concussion and bruises on his face and body. He was hospitalized for several days after the accident, Bussey said.
"He has some lingering medical issues with respect to his wrist," Bussey said of Wang. "He's getting older and I don't think that he's ever regained himself entirely."
Wang and Li had moved to the United States from China in 2002 and lived with one of their daughters and a son-in-law in Germantown.
XIUFENG WANG V. MILESTONE CONSTRUCTION SERVICES INC. ET AL.
Court: Montgomery County Circuit
Case No.: 330880V
Proceeding: Jury Trial
Judge: Marielsa A. Bernard
Award: $2.032 million
Dates: Incident: Oct. 9, 2008
Suit filed: April 22, 2010
Disposition: Aug. 1, 2011
Plaintiff's Attorney: Gerard Mitchell and Richard A. Bussey of Stein, Mitchell & Muse LLP in Washington, D.C.
Defense Attorney: Robert B. Hetherington of McCarthy Wilson LLC in Rockville
Count: Wrongful death, personal injury