Jury awards $4.3m to man hurt when snow pushed off bridge
A Plymouth County jury ordered a Hanover construction company to pay the owner of a food chain $4.3 million for injuries he suffered when the company’s snowplows pushed a heavy load of snow off a highway overpass onto the man’s truck.
Mark Lambert, who owns Lambert’s Rainbow Fruit stores, suffered serious back injuries and has been living in constant pain since the Jan. 17, 2005, accident.
Lambert was driving a Mack truck loaded with plants and produce on Route 44 in Plymouth when it was crushed by a load of snow that two plows operated by P.A. Landers Inc. pushed off the Route 3 overpass.
An expert witness who testified on Lambert’s behalf in his lawsuit against Landers said the snow was the equivalent of a 3-by-8-foot block of concrete.
“This whole thing was a travesty,’’ said Robert A. George, a lawyer for Lambert.
Lambert tried to go back to work after the accident, George said, but he collapsed six months later in his Hyannis store and has not been able to work since. Lambert has endured back surgeries and is living in constant pain, his lawyer said.
George and a fellow Boston lawyer, Edward T. Hinchey, argued the case over the past week-and-a-half. It took the jury a few hours Tuesday to decide.
A P.A. Landers spokesman did not return calls seeking comment.
In 2008, a federal judge in Boston ordered the company to pay the US government $900,000 and the state $3 million after a whistle-blower showed it was overcharging for asphalt used in the Big Dig project. The US attorney’s office said the company generated phony weight slips for truckloads of asphalt from 1995 through 2003.
Preston A. Landers, the company’s president, and Gregory Keelan, its manager, were found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud and sentenced to prison.
And in 2006 and 2007, P.A. Landers settled two other lawsuits involving motor vehicle incidents that resulted in injuries.
P.A. Landers is now run by new management, said a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. After the management change and two years of being barred from state work, P.A. Landers is again allowed to do business with the state.
John M. Guilfoil can be reached at email@example.com.