There are many tragedies that could easily have been avoided with proper signage and/or installation. The fatality of Juan Julian was just one of those situations. After exiting the facility where he was employed, Mr. Julian sought to re-enter, but the large entrance gate had closed. Knowing there was a button within reach on the inside pillar of the gate that he could push to re-open the gate, he reached through to push it. The sign warning that “Moving gate can cause serious injury or death” and that “This entrance is for vehicles only. Pedestrians must use separate entrance” was located several feet away and was not visible to someone approaching the area where the button was located. Upon pushing the button, the gate immediately began moving, trapping his arm and preventing him from being able to move away. The gate continued moving until a larger pole wedged against him, trapping him between the gate and the brick support column, resulting in his eventual suffocation and death. The installation of the button module to open and close the gate was not done properly…it should have been placed with a 6 foot buffer, preventing anyone from being able to reach it through the gate, and the spot set aside for the “Stop” button was not operable, a bolt located where the button should have been.
The attorney and team were able to work backwards using physics to determine the starting position. Highlighting the positions of both the warning sign and the button module were key to help illustrate that the liability lay with the facility. Adding in the timer and the trauma his body was experiencing succeeded in showing what he went through prior to his death. The defense did not want this info in front of a jury, and they settled for $4.6 million.