Covington Bridge collapse worker seeks damages from foreman

COVINGTON, Ga. — A former construction worker claims the foreman tasked with removing the access road bridge was ‘negligent’ in October when he drove heavy machinery over the structure after cuts were made on its concrete face.

As a result, the bridge collapsed due to the actions of foreman Michael Garrett and the worker, Robert Mullins, suffered numerous injuries and “incurred reasonable and necessary medical expenses” exceeding $1.2 million, said a trial.

Mullins, a Villa Rica resident, is seeking “actual damages in the amounts to be presented at trial” and a jury to hear the case against Garrett in White County Superior Court, Mullins said in the lawsuit.

The former worker spent nearly a month at Grady Medical Center after the incident.

He is tied to a wheelchair and was forced to move in with relatives whose residence is not designed for a disabled person, his lawyer, Matthew Stoddard, said.

“He’s in a lot of pain,” Stoddard said.

Mullins was also badly shaken when he saw close friend, colleague Demario Battle, die in the collapse, Stoddard said.

“He’s clearly very badly hurt and that other person is dead,” Stoddard said. “He’s a badass, but you can tell he’s (shaken).”

The lawsuit said the site of the old access road bridge over the Yellow River consisted of “pillars protruding from the ground, multiple support beams laid on the piers, and concrete slabs laid on the beams of support”.

He said the Georgia Department of Transportation hired Georgia Bridge and Concrete LLC — which is not a party to the lawsuit — to demolish the access road bridge near Exit 88 on I-20 in the county. of Newton.

Georgia Bridge contacted B&D Concrete Cutting Inc. “and asked if B&D Concrete would come to the job site and ‘cut the bridge’ so that Defendant Garrett could then remove the bridge from the job site in pieces.”

Mullins and Battle arrived at the job site on October 19, 2021, “came out onto the deck with concrete saws and began to cut the deck along some section lines which were pre-marked with blue spray paint , according to the lawsuit.

“On information and conviction, the defendant Garrett was the (Georgia) bridge employee who pre-marked the section lines with blue spray paint.”

The lawsuit said Garrett pre-marked the cut lines to be cut with the concrete saws, but B&D Concrete “was still responsible for plaintiff Mullins’ time, manner, and method of work.”

Mullins used B&D equipment and the company chose the time he arrived, the order “in which to make the sectional cuts along the blue-painted line” and “kept control over how which plaintiff Mullins used the concrete saw to make the cut”.

He then alleged that while he and Battle were on the bridge doing their work “and after many cuts had been made, the defendant Garrett negligently drove a large heavy shovel over the already cut bridge”.

“Defendant Garrett’s actions caused the bridge to collapse,” Mullins’ lawsuit alleged.

He said that when the bridge collapsed, Mullins, Garrett, Battle and “the excavator, concrete saws and parts of the bridge all collapsed”.

“As a result of the bridge collapse, plaintiff Mullins was seriously injured and Demario Battle, a non-party, died.”

Garrett, an employee of Georgia Bridge & Concrete LLC, said in a response that he denied negligence and did not violate a “duty to exercise a degree of care.”

The Cleveland, Georgia resident said he denied all allegations made by Mullins, including driving a “big heavy excavator on the already cut bridge”, and said he “didn’t breached any duty” to Mullins.

About Jessica J. Bass

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