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ARTICLE ID 182086

Product liability - Defective design of tank trailer access system - Insufficient number of hand holds to enable plaintiff to maintain three-point access at all times - Fall from top of tank trailer - Lumbar burst fracture - Fracture of dominant wrist - Tibial plateau fracture - Liability only.

Hudson County, NJ

This action involved a plaintiff truck driver who, in accordance with her pre-transport duties, had to climb on top of the tank trailer and check seals of the domes. During this process, the plaintiff sustained injury when she fell from the top of the tank trailer to the ground below. The plaintiff maintained that the access system was defectively designed and that an insufficient number of handholds were provided, preventing her from maintaining three point contact at all times.

The plaintiff had initially also named the owner of the property upon which her injury occurred and where the tankers were stored, as well as several companies who were involved with leasing tank trailers to plaintiff’s employer. These defendants argued that there was no proof of liability against them and their motions of summary judgment were granted. The plaintiff also named the manufacturer of a different tank trailer and this defendant also successfully argued that there was inadequate proof that its product was involved, obtaining summary judgment.

The only remaining defendant successfully moved to bifurcate the trial on liability and damages. This defendant denied designing or manufacturing the tank trailer from which the plaintiff fell. This defendant maintained that multiple business records illustrated that there were no similar three-dome trailers at the tank wash location at which the tank trailers were stored, arguing that it was clear that its product could not have been the tank trailer from which she fell.

The jury rendered a unanimous defense verdict.

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