Sewage plant chief allegedly suffers spinal injuries in workplace accident, sues contractor and two of its employees

By Nicholas Malfitano | Aug 15, 2017

SCRANTON – A sewage plant chief who needed spinal fusion surgery after allegedly being injured in a workplace accident says a private contractor and two of its employees were grossly negligent in causing the circumstances that led to that accident.

Christopher Meredick and Tara Meredick of Taylor filed suit in the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas on April 25 versus Koberlein, Inc. (doing business as “Koberlein Environmental Services”) of Honesdale, Ryan Wilbur of Factoryville and Jack Collins, of Prompton.

According to the complaint, Koberlein was a private contractor hired by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to perform sewer line repair work at Clark Summit State Hospital. Plaintiff Christopher Meredick served as the Chief Plant Operator of the Sewage Treatment Plant located at the hospital.

On July 30, 2015, Christopher was standing in the parking lot area where work was being performed and speaking with another employee, when he was suddenly struck in the head and body with a 1” rubber jet line, causing him serious injuries.

Defendants Wilbur and Collins, who were operating a jet vac line which became stuck inside an underground sewer line being repaired and/or cleaned, allegedly and in a careless and negligent fashion, tied a 3500-pound capacity strap to the 1” rubber jet vac line. Wilbur and Collins then used a Koberlein truck to back up in an attempt to remove the stuck vac line from the sewer pipe, and in doing so, the aforesaid strap broke causing the “stretched” or “taut” jet vac line to snap forward like a rubber band being released in Christopher’s direction, which struck him in the head and body.

Christopher believes Wilbur and Collins acted negligently in their conduct, that Koberlein was vicariously liable for that same conduct and that Wilbur, an employee of only two weeks, tested positive for drug use immediately following the incident – thereby alleging Koberlein did not wait for the results of the drug screen to come in, before putting Wilbur to work for the company with heavy machinery. The plaintiffs believe this allegation allows them to ask for punitive damages.

Christopher alleges he sustained serious injuries in the incident, including herniated cervical discs with radiculopathy, resulting in spinal fusion surgery at the L3-L4-L5 vertebral junction and accompanying scarring, dizziness, eye floaters, vomiting, post-concussive syndrome, eye and occipital nerve injury resulting in surgical intervention, tinnitus, vertigo, slurred speech, memory loss, lumbar injury, severe shock to his nervous system, limitation of motion, depression and other emotional injuries.

Christopher’s spouse Tara Meredick also sues for loss of consortium in this case.  

For counts of negligence, negligent entrustment, vicarious liability and loss of consortium, the plaintiffs are seeking in excess of $50,000.00, plus punitive damages, delay damages, interest, costs and any other relief the Court deems just and appropriate, in this matter.

The plaintiffs are represented by Scott E. Schermerhorn in Scranton.

Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas case 17-CV-2614

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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