New Castle News

October 7, 2013

Injured man’s family awarded lawsuit settlement

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Billy Ray Moore and his wife, Addie, don’t consider themselves millionaires by any means, but certainly consider themselves lucky.

Billy Ray feels lucky to be alive.

And they feel lucky that after 11 years, a lawsuit settlement with Elk River Inc. of Cullman, Ala., for $1.3 million will allow them to pay his medical bills and live comfortably.

The jury had been selected Sept. 23 when the company agreed to settle an injury lawsuit on behalf of Moore, 42, who suffered a bone-crushing fall that rendered him unable to work, probably for the rest of his life.

The suit was filed Feb. 28, 2002, by the law firm of Dallas W. Hartman after Moore’s safety equipment failed and he fell 40 feet while building a cell phone tower.

The case, initiated by Hartman and attorney Douglas Olcott, claimed the hook on a rebar assembly holding Moore to the tower was defective and gave way.

Elk River, manufacturer of the device, became the sole defendant after several other companies in the suit were eliminated.

The couple have medical bills to repay to worker’s compensation and they owe attorneys fees. After that, they will receive an up-front sum and be allotted a certain amount each month for living expenses as part of the settlement agreement.

The Moores live modestly in a rustic home off Valley View Road in Pulaski Township. Ducks, ducklings and peacocks dot their yard and a few goats and a sheep are family pets. Their house sits atop a steep, rocky driveway surrounded by woods.

Moore’s job building communications towers required physical agility, which he gained from eight years in the Marines with tours in Somalia and during Desert Storm. After that, he spent four years in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard reserves.

He was overseeing a crew in Saltsburg, Indiana County, for Shawrose Construction of Hopewell Township, building a 350-foot tower for Crown Communications on Sept. 29, 2000, the day he fell.

“I fell straight back and threw my legs and I did a somersault in the air,” Moore said. “I landed on my feet like a cat. My bones busted through my boots and my right leg was halfway amputated. My right arm was pretty much just dangling, too.”

Moore suffered fractures of the left elbow and rib, a compound fracture of the left ankle and injuries to his left and right feet and legs as well as to his muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, nerves and other tissue of his legs, arms and torso.

He and Addie were living in West Mifflin and had plans to move that week to their Pulaski home. She completed the move with family and friends while he lay in Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh.

“God had something different in mind for us,” Addie, 38, said while sitting with her husband at their kitchen table recounting his ordeal. Their five children — 12-year-old triplets and 7-year-old twins, all born after the accident — would be home from school soon.

Moore spent two weeks in the hospital after his accident and surgeons removed a muscle from his side to put into his ankle. He initially underwent three operations to clean out the debris.

“They had to work really hard to save his leg,” Olcott said.

He had three or four fusions on his right ankle and two on his left. He has had at least nine surgeries, the most recent one on his elbow in July for a pinched nerve.

Both of Moore’s feet are fused to his ankles and his heels have screws in them and he cannot flex or turn them. His shoes have springs in them because his feet don’t have the natural roll when he walks. He also has screws in his left elbow.

When he went home from the hospital, he slept in a hospital bed and had nurses at his house every day for a year. It was a year of physical therapy before he would walk again.

Moore now is a stay-at-home dad and an avid spectator at his children’s’ wrestling events and other activities. He also is taking up taxidermy.

He said he is still in constant pain but avoids painkillers because he doesn’t want to become addicted. As he gets older, the pains seem to worsen, he said.

“This was a long-awaited settlement for a well deserving family,” Olcott said. “The most satisfying part is knowing it will provide financial security for the Moores.”

Hartman commented, “Billy Ray was not only awarded with an excellent financial recovery, but he has made an amazing physical recovery for someone who fell 40 feet to the ground. Billy Ray and his family are an inspiration to all of us.”

“I think that physical training had a lot to do with getting me through this,” Moore said. “I’m really lucky to be alive. You don’t hear of too many people surviving a fall from a tower.”