Southern Vermont Justice

News and updates from Vermont's most respected attorneys


  • July 15, 2016
  • BarrSternberg

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Few people know the extreme danger Portland wet cement poses when it comes into contact with the skin, either directly or through saturated clothing.  The average consumer engaged in a do-it-yourself home improvement project is not aware that direct or indirect contact with wet cement can cause serious and irreversible third degree burns.  However, the companies that sell concrete to homeowners are well aware of this hidden danger and often fail to warn their customers. For this reason, an area concrete company recently settled a lawsuit that will have their insurance company paying damages in the amount of $450,000 to our client who suffered severe third-degree chemical burns to his legs after he came into contact with wet cement.

What makes wet cement so dangerous is that, unlike almost every other substance that causes burns, you won’t feel any pain or discomfort when your skin initially makes contact with it. A person may have wet concrete on their skin for hours without feeling any discomfort, all while the cement is damaging the skin microscopically and, potentially, irreversibly. By the time a person becomes aware of a burn, much damage has already occurred, and further damage is impossible to stop. That is exactly what happened to a local man in this case during a home improvement project he was helping his son-in-law complete.

Our firm took the case to court when the concrete company’s insurance agents declined to cover our client’s medical expenses associated with the chemical burns—injuries that have so far required three skin grafting operations and have left him permanently scarred and disabled, and in constant discomfort.

“This is a tragic case, made more so because the injury could have been so easily avoided,” David Silver, partner and lead attorney on the case explained. “A simple warning would have prevented this horrible injury.”

Following nearly two years of litigation, BarrSternberg and the company’s team of attorneys reached a settlement that will help compensate our client for the nightmarish pain and suffering he experienced during his treatment and rehabilitation, his permanent scarring and disability, and the medical expenses he has incurred and will incur.

“This settlement will help our client manage the medical expenses associated with the injury, which is critical. Equally if not more important, this settlement reflects the concrete company taking responsibility for the pain and suffering it caused our client and allows our client to feel that justice has been done. It is my client’s fervent wish that this case will help protect other consumers. He cannot change what happened to him, but he is hopeful that this may change the way cement companies do business. A settlement like this sends a message. The best thing that could happen from here is that the cement industry learns its lesson and provides verbal and written warnings of the dangers that the chemicals used in their concrete poses to customers. If nothing else,” Silver added, “our client wants the public to know so that this will never happen to someone else.”

At this time, Mr. Silver’s client wishes to maintain his anonymity, but hopes the case will broadly educate the public. Photos of injuries available by request.