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ARTICLE ID 49939

$________ - FAILURE OF COMPANY UNDER CONTRACT TO MAINTAIN AND REPAIR PLAINTIFF GLASS FACTORY WORKER'S EMPLOYER'S FLEET OF FORKLIFTS - PREVENTATIVE FAILURE OF ELECTRICAL SWITCH CONTROLLING HYDRAULIC SYSTEM - FORKS JERK WHEN PRIMARY HYDRAULIC PUMP - FALLING RACK CONTAINING ________ POUNDS OF PLATE GLASS KNOCKED ONTO PLAINTIFF WHO IS WORKING NEARBY - SEVERE COMPLEX BILATERAL FRACTURES TO LOWER LEGS - CONTINUING NON-UNION OF RIGHT LEG DESPITE NUMEROUS SURGICAL INTERVENTIONS - SEVERE PAIN - NEED FOR CRUTCHES TO WALK

Burlington County

This action involved a 40-year-old worker in the glass factory’s packing department. The plaintiff contended that, the defendant company, which had contracted with the employer to maintain and repair its fleet of approximately 20 forklifts, negligently failed to comply with the manufacturer’s specifications for preventative maintenance. The plaintiff contended that, as a result, an electrical switch controlling the primary hydraulic pump of the forklift failed. The forks jerked when the forklift started with the secondary hydraulic pump. When the forks lurched, they knocked over a rack containing ________ pounds of plate glass and the plaintiff was struck in the lower legs. The plaintiff maintained that he suffered severe bilateral compound fractures to the lower legs and has been unable to achieve union on the right side despite numerous surgical interventions. The plaintiff contended that he will permanently suffer extensive pain, a severe limp and require crutches to walk.

The plaintiff’s expert engineer would have analogized the system to a manual transmission of an automobile except that the system is controlled by hydraulic fluid. The expert would have maintained that the electrical switch failed, resulting in the forklift starting in second rather than first gear. The expert would have contended that, much like a car, such an event resulted in the forklift starting with a jerking motion, and the forks knocking over the plate glass that struck the plaintiff.

The defendant denied that the plaintiff’s position should be accepted. The electrical switch in question had been discarded when replaced, there was no spoliation issue, and the defendant maintained that, even if switch failure had caused the mishap, such failure probably occurred immediately before the incident occurred.

The plaintiff would have countered that the manufacturer’s specifications provided for preventative maintenance, which would include addressing the electrical switch in question, after ________ hours of operation. The evidence reflected that the forklift had been used almost ________ hours since the last maintenance had been performed. The plaintiff also established that, approximately two weeks earlier and after the forklift had been used ________ hours since the last maintenance had been performed, it had been returned to the shop for unrelated work. The plaintiff contended that the defendant failed to avail itself of this opportunity to provide the required preventative maintenance. The plaintiff would have argued that if such preventative maintenance had been performed, it was highly doubtful that the part would have failed and that the defendant’s contention regarding notice of the failure should be rejected.

The defendant further contended that, the cause of the incident was the failure of the co-worker operating the forklift to go through an enumerated check list before activating the device, and the defendant would have argued that had he done so, the incident would not have occurred. The plaintiff would have countered that, although in a perfect world such a checklist would be followed, the exigencies in the workplace rendered it highly foreseeable that the checklist would not be followed.

A forklift operator would pull back on the throttle slightly to engage first hydraulic and pull back slightly farther to reach second hydraulic pump. The plaintiff also would have argued that such change was very subtle and that it was very foreseeable that a worker would not realize that he was going into second hydraulic pump prematurely.

The plaintiff was struck in the lower legs by the approximate ________ pound package. The plaintiff’s disability evaluating physician would have related that, because of the severe compound lower leg fractures, the plaintiff required numerous surgical interventions. The physician would have related that right leg has been unable to achieve union and that it is likely that he will never be able to achieve complete union.

The plaintiff maintained that he has great difficulties with everyday tasks and has moved into his sister’s home. The plaintiff also contended that he will permanently require crutches to walk. The plaintiff also would have contended that he is permanently unemployable. The plaintiff’s vocational expert would have projected approximately $________ in future lost wages.

The case settled prior to trial for $________.

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