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ARTICLE ID 49980

$________ - DEFENDANT RESTAURANT EMPLOYEE NEGLIGENTLY OPERATES FORKLIFT TRANSPORTING APPROXIMATELY 50 FLAT CARDBOARD BOXES, RESULTING IN BOXES STRIKING LADDER ON WHICH PLAINTIFF INDEPENDENT IS STANDING ON - FAILURE TO PROPERLY SECURE LOAD ON FORK-LIFT -FRACTURES - PULMONARY EMBOLISM DURING INITIAL HOSPITALIZATION - INABILITY TO CONTINUE PHYSICAL WORK..

Cumberland County

In this action the plaintiff, an independent contractor who was 47 at the time, was standing on an eight foot. ladder installing an overhead garage door in the storage/warehouse portion of the defendant seafood restaurant. The plaintiff contended that the defendant’s employee who was transporting approximately 50 cardboard sheets which had yet to be formed into boxes, traveled too close to him and/or was moving at an excessive rate of speed. The plaintiff contended that the cardboard sheets shifted and fanned out in a manner similar to a deck of cards striking the ladder. This resulted in the rung of the ladder breaking causing the plaintiff to fall. The plaintiff sustained a compound ankle fracture on the left side and a compound fracture/dislocation of the left tibia. The plaintiff underwent an open reduction and internal fixation. The plaintiff contended that the hardware became infected, and that he has been unable to achieve full wound closure despite some seven surgical interventions and debridements. The plaintiff maintained that it is probable that he will never achieve full wound closure. The plaintiff also suffered a pulmonary embolism during the initial 8-day hospitalization and required blood thinners for several months. This condition resolved.

The forklift operator indicated in a report shortly after the accident that he was not traveling faster than 1-2 mph and did not venture closer than 15 feet from the area in which the plaintiff was working. The plaintiff’s expert engineer would have testified that as a matter of "Newtonian physics," the accident could not have occurred if the forklift operator had been traveling at such a speed and at such a distance from the plaintiff. The expert conducted a site inspection and took into account factors that included the size and dimension of the forklift, the size of the cardboard sheets and the type of surface of the warehouse floor. The expert maintained that if the load shifted while the fork-lift operator was 15 feet away from the plaintiff traveling at 1-2 mph, the boxes would not have fanned out sufficiently far to reach the plaintiff. The expert maintained that the cardboard sheets would have only traveled 7- 10 feet in such conditions. The engineer maintained that the forklift operator was either traveling faster than claimed, which the plaintiff maintained would not be safe in this warehouse setting, he was excessively close to the plaintiff or both.

The plaintiff’s second engineer had prepared a number of computer animations which recreated the accident under various scenarios that took into account the calculations of the plaintiff’s initial expert engineer. The plaintiff maintained that this evidence underscored the plaintiff’s position. The plaintiff further maintained that the forklift operator was negligent in failing to secure the load with shrink wrap or a similar substance. In addition, plaintiff contended that he sustained a Grade 3 compound fracture to the left ankle and a fracture/dislocation to the left tibia. The plaintiff underwent an initial open reduction and internal fixation. The evidence reflected that during the initial 8-day hospitalization, the plaintiff suffered a pulmonary embolism and required blood thinners for several months. The plaintiff further maintained that the hardware became infected and that despite some seven surgical interventions, including debridements, he has been unable to achieve wound closure. Prior to the most recent surgery, it was feared that the plaintiff might be suffering osteomyelitis and that this condition was ruled out by a bone culture. The plaintiff contended, however, that the plaintiff remains at some risk of developing this condition in the future.

The plaintiff also maintained that he will probably require future debridements and contended that it is doubtful if he will ever be able to achieve full wound closure. He also stated that he can no longer work as a contractor. The plaintiff contended he was previously earning approximately $________ per year. The plaintiff has subsequently obtained a position working the night shift at a youth home. The plaintiff’s duties allow him to sit except for two times during a shift in which he must walk for approximately 15 minutes. The plaintiff is currently earning $________. The plaintiff further contended that he was very handy around the home and now is very limited. He further related that he had been an avid jogger, completing the NYC Marathon and would have introduced a photograph showing him cross the finish line.

The plaintiff would have also related that as a hobby, he worked as a corner person for professional boxers and that because of the need for such an individual to work very quickly in-between rounds, he has not been able to continue. The plaintiff had not earned income from this activity.

The case settled prior to trial for $________.

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