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ARTICLE ID 46953

DEFENDANTS' Products liability - Alleged defectively designed motorized pallet jack - Claimed lack of barrier guards - Narrow operator's platform - Foot injury.

Philadelphia County

The plaintiff alleged that a motorized pallet jack, manufactured by the defendant, Raymond Corporation, was defectively designed with an inadequately-sized riding platform that lacked barrier guards around its perimeter. As a result, the plaintiff claimed his foot was crushed between the machine and a doorway. The supplier of the pallet jack was also named as a defendant in the case. The defendants argued that the accident was caused solely by the plaintiff’s unsafe operation of the truck, with his foot positioned outside the riding platform, contrary to on-product warnings and instructions. The plaintiff dismissed his negligence claim at the close of evidence and the case went to the jury on a strict liability theory only.

The plaintiff was a man in his early 40s at the time of the accident on August 20, ________. He testified that he was riding a ________ Model ________ Walkie-Rider manufactured by the defendant in the course and scope of his employment in a food factory. The plaintiff claimed that the truck skidded on ice and struck the side of an open doorway. The plaintiff’s foot, which had been partially hanging off the side of the operator’s platform, was caught between the machine and the doorway. The plaintiff testified that he was riding in that position, because it was the only way he could comfortably operate the machine. The plaintiff contended that the operator’s platform was too narrow to accommodate his size 13 foot.

The plaintiff’s mechanical expert testified that the pallet jack should have been designed with a wider operating platform incorporating barrier guards at its perimeter to protect the operator in the event of a crash.

The plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon testified that the plaintiff suffered a crushing injury to his right foot as a result of the accident. The foot was casted and placed in a boot. The plaintiff alleged a permanent disability associated with loss of foot strength.

The defendants maintained that the design of the Model ________ Walkie-Rider was safe, not defective and that the riding platform was adequately wide. The defendants’ engineers testified that adding barrier guards to the platform would create a serious tripping hazard. The defense argued that the plaintiff operated the machine in an unsafe manner with his foot hanging out and that there were specific warnings and instructions against riding in that position.

The defendant also argued that the plaintiff did not suffer a crushing injury to his foot, but rather sustained only a serious bone bruise. The defense contended that the plaintiff’s own physician agreed that the plaintiff sustained a bone bruise.

The jury found that the Model ________ Walkie-Rider was not defective and a defense verdict was entered.

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