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Middlesex County, NJ

The plaintiff, in his early 60s, who was in the course of hooking up his tractor to a trailer located in the yard of the defendant terminal, contended that one of the defendant’s fork- lift operators failed to make adequate observations, striking the chassis as the plaintiff was in the course of connecting the rig.

The plaintiff contended that as a result, he was knocked to the ground, suffering a fractured rib, lacerated spleen, shoulder tear and a lumbar herniation. The herniated disc was diagnosed more than one month later, the defendant denied that this condition was related to the accident, and pointed to prior low back complaints that required chiropractor care.

The plaintiff related that he observed many vehicles, including forklifts, traveling in the yard and that there was no individual directing "traffic." The plaintiff testified that immediately before impact, he observed the forklift traveling very close to the rig. The plaintiff related that the impact between the forklift and the chassis threw him to the ground and contended that it was evident that the forklift in question had struck the rig.

The forklift operator denied in discovery that he had impacted with the chassis. The defendant could not dispute that an incident had occurred. The plaintiff elicited testimony from the witness during discovery that although numerous vehicles were operating in the area, the defendant terminal had not positioned an individual to direct traffic. The plaintiff would have argued both that the denial by this individual of having driven the fork-lift that struck the chassis, knocking down the plaintiff, should be rejected, and that irrespective of this factor, it was clear that the defendant terminal negligently failed to keep order in the area.

The plaintiff contended that he suffered a lacerated spleen, shoulder tear and rib fracture and underwent a splenectomy and arthroscopic shoulder surgery soon after the incident. The rib fracture and the injury to the spleen resolved and the plaintiff contended that he will permanently suffer some pain and restriction in the area.

The plaintiff also contended that the fall occasioned a lumbar herniation that was diagnosed more than one month after the incident. The plaintiff contended that conservative treatment was inadequate and that he then required a lumbar discectomy. The plaintiff maintained that despite the surgery, he will permanently suffer extensive pain and weakness and will be disabled from work. The evidence would have revealed that the plaintiff has been declared permanently disabled because of the lower back injury by SSA.

The defendant denied that the herniation was related to the incident in its yard, pointing to the delay in diagnosis and the history that included chiropractic treatments to both the lower back and shoulder. The plaintiff maintained that he did not appreciate the lower back symptoms earlier because he was initially more concerned with the other injuries. The plaintiff also contended that the prior chiropractic treatments were for maintenance only, that he had always been able to work, and that in view of the disability that commenced with the incident, it was clear that it was causally related.

The case settled prior to trial for $________, including $________ from the defendant terminal and a total of $________ from the plaintiff and his employer’s UM carriers.

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