A loader crane operator who suffered horrific injuries in 1995 when the boom of his crane contacted an uninsulated power line has secured $9m in a pre-trial settlement.

Daniel Eife of Philadelphia, USA sustained third degree burns to 30% of his total body surface, had to have both arms amputated, and has lost all feeling in his left leg which, according to doctors, still may have to be amputated. He is 37 years old.

Eife, who worked for Kempf, was using hard-wired remote control to unload sheet rock with an articulated boom crane manufactured by Omark Industries. He attempted to manoeuvre the boom between power lines, as his instructor had done while training him, the plaintiff’s deposition claims. He was unaware that the power lines were not insulated. Witness statements report that the boom began to move in a jerky fashion “in all likelihood, because it did not have proportional controls”, the deposition reads.

“No one knew or anticipated the devastating hazard of these wires. While operating the loader with the hard hard-wired remote control on the sidewalk, the boom accidentally contacted an overhead power line. According to the eyewitnesses, Mr Eife was frozen with flames erupting out of his arms and chest and legs. After about five to 10 seconds he fell to the ground.” Lawyers for Eife contended that:

• he never received proper training; • the hand box of the hard-wired remote control was uninsulated;

• a campaign back in 1988 by Omark’s successor organisation Blount, to retrofit fibre-optic remote controls in the wake of many other accidents, was ineffective and Kempf knew nothing about it;

• power company PECO could have insulated the power line inexpensively and thus prevented the accident.

The settlement is believed to be one of the largest reported pre-verdict, single plaintiff settlements in Pennsylvania history, according to Eife’s attorneys, Saltz Mongeluzzi Barret & Bendesky.