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New trial granted in case involving $6.3M award to injured worker


A Pennsylvania appellate court ruled Wednesday that a waste-to-energy facility is entitled to a new trial in a case in which a jury awarded an injured worker $6.3 million.  

The Pennsylvania Superior Court, in D’Amico v. Covanta Holding Corp., reversed a trial court decision denying a motion for a new trial filed by Covanta. The case involves a December 2017 incident in which welder Justin D’Amico was injured when a catwalk fell from a forklift and landed on him, crushing his pelvis and hips.  

Mr. D’Amico was employed by Sirk Mechanical Services Inc., which held a multi-year contract with Covanta.

Covanta appealed the October 2022 jury verdict for Mr. D’Amico, arguing it wasn’t liable for injuries caused by its subcontractor. The trial judge denied Covanta’s motion for a new trial.

The Superior Court ruled that while evidence presented at trial was sufficient to prove that Covanta retained control over its subcontractor’s work, the trial court issued improper jury instructions that prejudiced Covanta.  

Covanta had challenged other aspects of the award, including a calculation of $10,200 per year for a lifetime supply of medical marijuana.

The Superior Court said ordering medical marijuana cost reimbursement doesn’t violate federal law and that reimbursement is proper under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.