City settles Pica suit for $55,000 Former state senator's father claimed he was hurt on office job

He has retired

Street supervisor's $171,936 award was being appealed

March 27, 1997|By Walter F. Roche Jr. | Walter F. Roche Jr.,SUN STAFF

Baltimore officials have reached a $55,000 settlement, less than a third of the original award, with the father of a former state senator who says he was severely injured in a fall while on the job in a city building.

The out-of-court settlement between the city and John A. Pica Sr. was filed with the state Workers' Compensation Commission on Monday, a week before the case was scheduled to go to trial in Baltimore City Circuit Court. The city had appealed an award of $171,936 plus legal fees and expenses granted in May by a state Workers' Compensation Commissioner.

Pica, 73, a former city streets maintenance supervisor, was injured Jan. 8, 1993, when he said he tripped and fell while maneuvering between two desks in a city highway maintenance office. He claimed back, neck and knee injuries and permanent damage to both wrists.

Contacted yesterday by phone, Pica, the father of former state senator John A. Pica Jr., declined to comment on the settlement and said he was on his way to an appointment with his physical therapist.

"My back is killing me," he said.

Though Pica and city attorneys declined to discuss details of the settlement, a copy was filed with the state Workers' Compensation Commission. The settlement, under state law, is subject to the commission's approval.

According to the filing, the city agreed to pay the $55,000 as a lump sum settlement of all Pica's claims, including $7,500 in legal fees and $72.80 in unpaid medical bills. The balance -- $47,427.20 -- will go to Pica. The city also agreed to drop the pending court appeal.

Stanley C. Rogosin of the city Law Department confirmed that a settlement had been reached but declined to comment.

Richard E. Waldt of the Peter G. Angelos law firm, which represented Pica, did not respond to a request for comment. Pica's son, the former head of Baltimore's state Senate delegation, works for the same law firm.

The elder Pica, who served for 12 years as a City Council member, was a $980.67-a-week highway department supervisor in charge of coordinating snow-fighting operations in two city districts. He testified in a Workers' Compensation Commission on March 29, 1996, that he fell just after getting word of an approaching storm. He testified he was walking toward two other city workers to find out the location of city snow-removal equipment.

"While I was getting the information, my feet got caught. I fell backward with both my wrists and my arms behind me," he said, adding that on the way down he also struck his head on a table.

Doctors for the city conceded that Pica suffered injuries from the fall, but contended that many of his impairments were due to age and other long-standing conditions, some dating 50 years.

He retired from his city job while his workers' compensation claim was pending.

Pub Date: 3/27/97

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