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WORTHY v. U. S. STEEL CORP.

December 8, 1980

Curtis WORTHY
v.
U. S. STEEL CORPORATION



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEWCOMER

AMENDED FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

The essential facts of this case are set forth at 472 F. Supp. 1304 (E.D.Pa.1978) and 616 F.2d 698, (3d Cir. 1980), and need not be repeated here. The findings that follow are supplemental thereto.

 Findings of Fact

 1. The plaintiff was the first black person to become a crane operator in the 80 Inch Hot Strip Mill. For eleven years, from 1968 to trial in 1977, the only black cranemen in the 80 Inch Hot Strip Mill were Curtis Worthy, Allen Edwards and Warren Hallback. After the demotion of Mr. Worthy and Mr. Hallback, the work force consisted of one black craneman and thirty-two white cranemen.

 2. Crane operator is a prestigious position in the 80 Inch Hot Strip Mill; operators are high above the work floor in air-conditioned cabs, and they have significant responsibilities.

 3. A number of crane operators have been disciplined for safety infractions. The issuance of a discipline slip for a safety violation is an indication that the company considers the safety infraction to be serious.

 4. Plaintiff Worthy was not disciplined more harshly for his safety violations than were similarly unsafe white cranemen.

 (a) Worthy committed eight infractions involving the operation of his crane: three of them were for unsatisfactory work, one was a safety violation, one was for "carelessness," and three involved crane collisions. This last statistic is most startling; no other employee had been involved in three crane collisions.

 On July 7, 1968, while Worthy was working the crane, he struck a roll sitting on the floor causing a roll boom to swing around, forcing men on the floor to scatter for safety. (Tr. 103a) William Kurtz, Worthy's supervisor at the time, wrote a memo to Worthy's file describing the incident and indicating that Worthy's co-workers thought it unsafe to work with him. (Tr. 103a) Andrew J. Downey, Line Foreman at the Red Mill plant, was Worthy's foreman for about a year and worked with him when he was a craneman. During this time, Downey supervised fourteen other cranemen. (Tr. 864a) In Downey's opinion, Worthy was a poor craneman. (Tr. 865a). Downey gave as an example of Worthy's inadequacy the fact that when Worthy unloaded rolls coming out of the roll shop, Downey would have to put two men on the floor to hold the spreader apart to keep it from swaying. (Tr. 866a). Downey also received several safety complaints about Worthy from operators on the floor. (Tr. 867a).

 On March 22, 1969, Worthy ran his crane into another crane which was in the process of installing a blocker set. (Tr. 106a, 107a, 455a). Worthy received a discipline slip for the infraction and a written warning that any further violation of rules would result in more severe discipline. (Tr. 455). The report involving this incident states that there was nearly a serious accident caused by the collision. Apparently, a maintenance man's hand was caught between the lifting cable and coiler because the crane that was struck moved and shifted the work. (Tr. 107a).

 On December 10, 1969, Worthy bumped his crane into another crane which was in the process of taking coils off a buggy. (Tr. 396, 441, 111a). After the incident, Worthy did not stop his crane but kept operating it. (Tr. 397). He was given a disciplinary slip and suspended for one day. (Tr. 111a, 398). The report of this incident reveals that the operator of the struck crane slid off the seat and injured his left knee. (Tr. 113a). The report also states that the collision drove the struck crane approximately five to six feet. (Tr. 112a).

 On January 17, 1970, Worthy committed his most serious infraction, for which he received a disciplinary slip and a three-day suspension. (Tr. 114a). The incident consisted of the following events: Worthy pulled a cable off the roller table. (Tr. 399). He took the hoist up and kept it hanging straight. He stopped and bridged south and "pulled the trolley." (Tr. 399). At that point, the block, which is that part of the crane that is considered the hoist, dropped. (Tr. 739a). In order for the block to be dropped the crane cables must be cut. When this happens, the block drops from a height of thirty to fifty feet onto the work floor where workers may be. A dropped block is considered a very serious matter.

 On March 20, 1971, Worthy was operating his crane and was called to take some scrap metal from the coil pit by the pitman. (Tr. 290). He proceeded to remove the scrap, bridged north and, when he reached his destination, crashed into the crane of Weaver, a co-worker. (Tr. 290). For this accident, he received a disciplinary slip and five days suspension with an extension of five days. (Tr. 116a). He was then demoted. (Tr. 322).

 The gravity of this incident becomes apparent when one considers the circumstances of the accident and the company rules that were violated after the accident occurred. Worthy testified that he was going full speed when he hit the other crane (Tr. 508a) and that he gave Weaver's crane a "pretty hard whack." (Tr. 509a) According to the accident report of J. A. Davis, Worthy's foreman, who is black (Tr. 703a), the impact caused Weaver to be thrown from the cab, striking his shoulder against the door jamb. (Tr. 119a) Weaver went to the ...


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