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Scott Skirpan, a 50-year-old ex-Marine, lost his legs five days into his job as a truck spotter at a Pennsylvania landfill after a Caterpillar bulldozer backed up and rolled him over, crushing his legs. Even more tragically, Skirpan made his own 9-1-1 call and sat on the phone for 12 minutes with dispatchers, crying hysterically as his femoral artery spewed blood. Neither the driver of the bulldozer or any of the other employees attempted to help him as he sat bleeding to death, begging for help, and asking the 9-1-1 operator to tell his daughter he loved her. He was sure he was going to die.

Finally, Skirpan was airlifted to St. Luke’s Memorial Hospital. However, doctors told his wife that he probably wouldn’t make it and that if he did, he would be brain dead or have serious brain damage. He arrived at the hospital in cardiac arrest and withstood eleven operations, leaving him with no right leg and only part of his left. Skirpan also suffered serious infections while attempting to recover from his multiple surgeries, because of the garbage that had been crushed into his gaping wounds at the landfill site. Skirpan is lucky to be alive.

This week he finally saw some restitution—Chrin Brothers, the owners of the landfill, and Catepillar Inc., the makers of the bulldozer, settled Skarpin’s negligence lawsuit for $16.25 million mid-trial. His lawyers argued that Chrin Brothers failed to properly train the driver of the Caterpillar bulldozer, and that the bulldozer had inadequate rear vision. The settlement represents one of the largest in Pennsylvania history for a single-victim personal-injury case. Nonetheless, Skirpan says he’d rather have his legs back than the money but is making the best of his new life: he still manages to swim, lift weights, and operate a three-wheel hand-powered bicycle.

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