Masse $1.2 Million Wrongful Death Settlement


Style of Case:

JENNY MASSE and CLAUDETTE FENELUS, as Co-Personal Representatives of the Estate of Auguste Masse, deceased on behalf of the Estate and on behalf of and for the benefit of Carl Auguste Masse, a minor, Cybill Masse, a minor, Jenny Masse, Jose Martin, a minor, and Louisa Dina Masse, a minor, Plaintiffs, vs. COVANTA LEE, INC., a Florida Corporation and COVANTA ENERGY SERVICES, INC., a Delaware Corporation, authorized to and doing business in the State of Florida, Defendants.

Court and Case No.:

Suit was filed in the Twentieth Judicial Circuit in and for Lee County, Florida

Case Number 01-5913 CA IA

Trial Judge:

Judge John S. Carlin

Trial Date:

Three-week trial commencing March 25, 2003

Plaintiff’s Attorney:

Brett Alan Panter from the Law Firm of Panter, Panter & Sampedro, P.A., 6950 North Kendall Drive, First Floor, Miami, FL 33156

Defendant’s Attorney:

Robert Shimberg, Esq., Hill, Ward & Henderson, P.A., 3700 Bank of America Plaza, 101 East Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, Florida 33602.

Description of Liability Aspect of Case:

On May 23, 2001, Mr. Masse was employed by Waste Management and was hauling trash. The trash was being dumped at the Covanta Lee facility in Lee County in Ft. Myers. Covanta is a large facility which recycles trash. Mr. Masse was in a dump truck when it came onto what is known as a “tipping floor” at the Covanta facility. The tipping floor is a place where the trash is dumped. After the trash is dumped, a front-end payloader with the gross weight of 44,000 pounds is operated by an employee of Covanta Energy Services, Inc. The Covanta employee moves the trash into a pit where it is picked up by a crane and put through a process to create energy. Mr. Beller, an employee of Covanta Energy Services, Inc., was moving the trash with the front-end payloader past the area where Mr. Masse was alleged to have been alongside his own dump truck, and Mr. Beller backed up the payloader and claims to not have seen Mr. Masse. Mr. Beller ran over Mr. Masse with the front right wheel of the payloader crushing and killing him at that time.

Description of Plaintiff/Damages:

The plaintiff was a 47-year old black male, and the father of five children, three of whom were represented by Attorney Brett A. Panter. The three children surviving Mr. Masse were all living in Haiti at the time of his death. The children’s names and ages were Carl Auguste Masse, 8 years old, Cybil Masse, 13 years old, Jenny Masse, 22 years old, Jose Martin, 14 years old and Louisa Dina Masse, 15 years old. (Another attorney represented Jose Martin and Louisa Dina Masse.) The plaintiffs claimed that the children had visited with their dad a few times in the years preceding his death and had the plan, hopes and aspirations of coming to the United States to reunite with him on a more permanent basis.

Description of Injuries:


Treating Doctors:

Not applicable

Defense of this Claim:

The defendant vigorously contested the issue of liability claiming that Mr. Masse did not follow the rules and regulations governing people on the tipping floor. The defendant further asserted that Mr. Masse left the surrounding area of his own dump truck and put himself in danger of being run over by moving vehicles on the tipping floor.

Lost Wages:

Mr. Masse was earning approximately $25,000 per year as an employee of Waste Management and was 47 years old.

Expert Witnesses:

Plaintiff hired Miles Moss, an accident reconstruction expert, along with Girard H. Turner, CSP, PE, an expert on OSHA standards.

Jury Verdict/Settlement:

This case was settled at mediation prior to trial for $1.2 Million Dollars.

Panter, Panter & Sampedro

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