David Madison had been working as a security guard at the Titanium Metals Corp. plant near Henderson for less than three weeks in 2003 when a wrong step changed his life forever.
Madison, then 32, fell into a 10-foot-deep pit and suffered severe spinal injuries that rendered him a quadriplegic.
On Wednesday, the Las Vegas man’s lawyers announced that they had settled his lawsuit against Titanium Metals, TIMET, for $10 million.
Attorney Marty Keach said the settlement will allow Madison, 36, to fulfill his biggest dream: “to lead a normal life.”
“He was never looking at hitting the jackpot,” Keach said. “He only wanted to have a decent quality of life. That’s all.”
Attorney Mitchell Cobeaga filed a lawsuit against TIMET, a maker of titanium parts for airplanes, on Madison’s behalf in December 2003. He later brought in Keach and attorney Robert Murdock to litigate the case. The pair negotiated the settlement late Tuesday night, hours before the case was to go to trial before District Judge Michelle Leavitt.
Keach said his client accepted the settlement offer after he and Murdock determined that it “was sufficient to take care of David for the rest of his life.”
“We were unwilling to risk $10 million for the chance to maybe get a little bit more at trial,” Keach said.
He would not say how much of the settlement will go to Madison’s lawyers. He said only that Madison “will end up with millions.”
“We’ve made arrangements to take care of all of David’s medical needs for the rest of his life, and they’re substantial,” Keach said.
Murdock said the workers’ compensation insurer agreed to waive its $3 million lien and accept $375,000 from the settlement.
TIMET’s lawyers, Brian Terry and John Gormley, could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but Keach sang their praises.
“They were very compassionate throughout the case,” Keach said. “They recognized the seriousness of the case, as did TIMET.”
Murdock said Madison began working as a security guard for a New York-based company called Guardsmark on Jan. 27, 2003, and was placed at the TIMET plant. Madison previously had worked as a security guard at other locations.
Madison was making his rounds on the night of Feb. 16, 2003, when he walked into one of the buildings at the TIMET plant and fell into a pit that had been used to make titanium.
Murdock and Keach argued that TIMET had violated Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines by failing to cover pits that had not been used in years. Murdock said witnesses testified during depositions that the building was “unbelievably dark.”
Keach said TIMET’s management later had the building demolished.
“They corrected the problems immediately, so this could never happen to anyone else,” he said.
The lawyer said the dangerous condition had existed for 20 years with no problems.
“This was just a very unforeseen, unfortunate accident,” he said.
Madison declined to be interviewed for this story. Murdock said the man lives with his wife, Griselda, and their 11-year-old son in a small apartment that lacks accessibility for the disabled.
The lawyer said Madison’s settlement will ensure that the family can buy a house and vehicle that can accommodate his wheelchair.
Keach said the settlement means Madison and his family “can now live comfortably for the rest of their lives.”