Jury awards Mexico man nearly $500,000 after serious injury at Biddeford waste plant

Posted Sept. 12, 2013, at 3:28 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 12, 2013, at 3:53 p.m.

BIDDEFORD, Maine — A York County jury on Wednesday awarded $489,775 to a Mexico, Maine, man severely injured in a 2009 industrial accident at the Maine Energy Recovery Company plant in Biddeford.

Jurors ruled that MERC did not follow adequate federal safety regulations during a routine plant shutdown.

Joseph Bordeau, a welder working in 2009 as a contractor at MERC’s Biddeford waste-to-energy incinerator before the plant closed in 2012, suffered a serious back injury as a result of the accident, Bordeau’s attorney, Peter Clifford, said Thursday.

While Bordeau stood on an 8-foot ladder, a heavy metal debris pan that Clifford said was “as big as two refrigerators” came loose and swung on a chain, smashing into Bordeau’s ladder and pinning him to the I-beam for several minutes.

An orthopedic surgeon determined that the injury was permanent, according to Clifford, and that Bordeau, 48, could only work four hours per day, with limitations.

Bordeau contended that MERC was at fault for the accident because the company failed to follow safety regulations imposed by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as well as MERC’s own safety policies related to rigging and hoisting heavy objects.

The jury deliberated several hours before issuing its ruling that Bordeau should receive $489,775 in damages because of MERC’s failure to adhere to safety policies, according to Clifford.

“They should have known better,” Clifford said Wednesday of MERC officials. “It was pretty dangerous.”

Attorney for the defense, James Main of the firm Hoy and Main in Gray, was reportedly out of the office Thursday and Friday and unavailable for comment.

CORRECTION:

An earlier version of this story requires correction. Joseph Bordeau’s attorney is Peter Clifford, not Joe Clifford.

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