Injured Deep Rock Tunnel employee attorneys demand jury trial keep in county

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Injured Deep Rock Tunnel worker attorneys demand jury trial stay in county

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A hearing has been set to potentially move the lawsuit involving a man injured during an explosion while working on Fort Wayne’s Deep Rock Tunnel project out of the county.

Back in April, 31-year-old Tyler Tompkins was injured when a boring machine exploded and “piping and/or piping fragments forcefully struck Tyler” while he was more than 200 feet underground.

Tompkins’s wife and legal guardian filed a lawsuit against Herrenknecht Tunnelling Systems, USA, Inc. and Shambaugh & Son, L.P. seeking monetary damages for his injuries, court costs and any future relief.

The lawsuit states that “(Tompkins) suffered permanent and catastrophic injuries to his person, including a severe traumatic brain injury, that have rendered him totally physically and mentally incapacitated and causing him to incur emergency medical, hospital, diagnostic, surgical, therapeutic, pharmaceutical and other medical expenses.”

According to court documents Herrenknecht Tunnelling Systems, USA, Inc. and Shambaugh & Son, L.P. have asked for a change of venue of the trial. However, in court documents Tompkins’s attorney ‘demand a jury trial.’ They also want the trial to stay in Allen County due to the fact the “plaintiffs reside in Allen County, Shambaugh’s headquarters and principal place of business is located in Allen County, and the subject incident occurred in Allen County.”

The hearing to decide if the trial will move out of Allen County is set for 1:30 p.m. Nov. 23 in the Allen County Courthouse.

Not named in the lawsuit is Tompkins’ employer, Lane Construction Corporation. Back in August the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) conducted a safety compliance inspection and found that created hazardous conditions that did not comply with Indiana Code.

IOSHA documents show the employer “did not furnish employment and a place of employment which were free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees, in the employees were exposed as follow.” Because of this, the company was ordered to pay a fine of $7,000.

According to an IOSHA spokesperson, Lane Construction reached an informal settlement agreement with IOSHA in which the company remediated/corrected the areas cited as being out of compliance with IOSHA regulations. The company also paid the full penalties listed in the safety order. As a result of those actions, the violations were reclassified from serious to non-serious.

The Deep Rock Tunnel project involves boring a five-mile tunnel through bedrock under the city to divert sewage away from rivers and directly to the wastewater treatment plant. The project began in 2018 and is expected to be complete in 2023.