PA Cement Miner Sues Following Work-Related Leg Amputation
Former Lehigh Valley Miner, Whose Leg Was Amputated After a Horrific Cement-Plant Worksite Injury, Filed Suit Today Alleging the Catastrophe Was Predictable and Preventable
Easton, PA (April 6, 2021) – Former cement-plant worker Vincenzo (Vinny) DeNisi, 33, whose left leg was suddenly snagged then severed when an unsecured metal floor grate collapsed into a razor-sharp rotating, 24-inch radial metal conveyor-screw blade, today sued the Nazareth, Pennsylvania processing facility’s former owner-operator and several contractors for allegedly creating and then failing to fix the flagrant dangerous conditions that resulted in his “predictable and preventable” life-altering injuries, according to Mark K. Altemose, and Michael J. McKarski, his attorneys from Cohen, Feeley, Altemose and Rambo, P.C.
The civil negligence action (DeNisi v. SmitHahn Company, Inc. et al. Northampton County Court of Common Pleas, Docket No. C-48-CV-2019-1158 Filed Complaint PDF) seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages under Pennsylvania law and includes a request for a jury trial.
Mr. DeNisi, whose left leg was completely surgically amputated above the knee at St. Luke’s Hospital and required multiple surgeries following the 9 a.m., September 13, 2019 incident at the Lehigh Heidelberg Cement Plant #3, to date faces mounting medical expenses of more than $500,000, according to Attorney Altemose.
“Vinny loved his job, and is a courageous young man who filed this lawsuit to make sure that what happened to him can never happen again, not only at Lehigh-Heidelberg, but at any similar workplace where safety should be the absolute highest priority,” said Mr. Altemose. “As the investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA, Case No. 9463748) correctly concluded, the unsupported and unsecured grate—specifically intended as rigid walking surface for miners working above the 135-foot-long industrial screw that propels powdery cement from silos through the finishing plant—was a severe safety hazard that exposed workers to ‘fatal entanglement injuries’. It was only a matter of time before an unsuspecting miner stepped where Vinny did and fell with that perilous section of grating into the bladed screw just inches below.”
Shortly after the accident, which MSHA determined to be the result of “negligence”, MSHA ordered corrective actions that included installation of properly fitted and anchored floor grating, hand rails and safety-warning signage. Below are pictures of the (Left) missing supports for the grating at the time of the incident and (Right) the remediated work location:
Mr. DeNisi, a lifetime Lehigh Valley resident who was a recent hire at the time of the incident with hopes of working at the plant until retirement, said he is doing everything possible to stay positive after the tragedy, but that he still has nightmares over what happened. “I’m blessed to have amazing family and friends—and those heroic co-workers—who not only saved my life, but also have stood by me every minute of every day. My leg was shattered but not my will. The lawsuit isn’t just about me, it’s about making sure that no miner ever has to experience the horrors I have experienced.”
Attorney Altemose has extensive experience representing catastrophically injured workers, including those whose severe injuries required amputation. In a landmark case, a Northampton County jury in 2008 awarded $4.4 million to his client, a church elder whose left leg was amputated below the knee when a stack of drywall fell onto him while performing volunteer work at the church.