$1 Million Settlement

Personal Injury

February 2006
Caption: Karen Chaffee v. Lehr Construction Co., CPM Management, LICO Steel, Inc., Champion Elevator Co., and D.E. Contracting.
Court: Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri
Case Number/Date: 03CV222997
Special Damages: past medical expenses in excess of $193,790.58
Insurance Carrier: Zurich American Insurance Company
Plaintiff’s Attorneys: James Montee, The Montee Law Firm, P.C.,


An ironworker worker injured when a construction elevator malfunctioned has reached a $1,000,000.00 settlement of her case pending in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri.

Karen Chaffee, an ironworker foreman for Rebar, Inc., was injured on April 24, 2002, at a construction site at Heartland Health Hospital in St. Joseph, Missouri, when a construction elevator carrying Ms. Chaffee to the second floor of the project failed. The elevator fell to the bottom of the elevator shaft. The elevator was being operated by D.E. Contracting.

The Montee Law Firm, P.C.'s investigation determined that Champion Elevator sent an improper part for the elevator. This fact was discovered prior to the installation of the part; however, the installer, LICO Steel, cut the part to make it fit. It was Ms. Chaffee’s position that this contributed to the elevator’s collapse. A LICO expert blamed wind conditions.

Ms. Chaffee suffered severe back injuries as a result of the accident. Ms. Chaffee required extensive medical treatment including several lumbar epidural injections, a three level decompression and a two level arthrodecis and an anterior lumbar interbody fusion at L3-4 and L4-5, with placement of fusion cages.

As a result of her injuries, Ms. Chaffee was given a permanent 30 pound lifting restriction and was severely restricted in all activities. Due to her injuries she was not able to return to her job as an ironworker. Her earning capacity was reduced from $28.00 per hour to between $7.00 and $16.00 per hour.