Defendants Trying to Pass the Buck on Liability in Wrongful Death Case

By Peter DePaolis

Defendants in a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit are fighting each other over liability in a 2004 steam explosion that killed two men on 17th Street in Northwest Washington, D.C. After six years of disputes amongst the various defendants, including the federal government, the case is showing signs of moving forward. The parties have until July to file arguments on the indemnity issue.

Joseph Hudert and Francis Stotmeister died in the explosion when a deadly blast of steam and water shot up through a manhole at their work site. The eight defendants include the federal government as well as various contractors and subcontractors. In total, the plaintiff’s families are asking for $20 million and $30 million in damages, respectively.

Washington, D.C. personal injury lawyer, William Lightfoot, is lead attorney for the Stotmeister family. Mr. Lightfoot said he is staying clear of the defendants’ disputes, but last month he challenged the government’s claim that Mr. Stotmeister was exceeding the scope of his duties when the explosion occurred. Lightfoot went on to say that he is conducting discovery and preparing for trial.

According to one local attorney, disputes among defendants are common when the government brings in contractors who subsequently bring in subcontractors. Lightfoot is not surprised that cross-claims and third-party disputes have taken up so much of the case’s time.

A skilled Washington, D.C. personal injury attorney can represent you in the most complex of cases, including construction site claims. Contact an attorney at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis for a free consultation.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.