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DEFENDANT''S Alleged defective design of rough terrain forklift - Plaintiff slips when attempting to enter vehicle - Tears of rotator cuff and biceps tendon on dominant side - Injuries allegedly preclude plaintiff from continuing to work.

Middlesex County, New Jersey

The male plaintiff, in his late 50s at the time, who was operating a rough terrain forklift to carry a trash bin to a dumpster, contended that the forklift, designed and manufactured by the defendant, was defectively designed. A worker would utilize a foot rung and two grab bars to hoist themselves onto the vehicle and the plaintiff maintained that as he was doing so, with his hands on the grab bars, his foot slipped and that the pressure caused tears of the rotator cuff and biceps tendon on his left, dominant side.

The plaintiff’s safety expert maintained that although there were no specific standards for rough terrain forklifts, it would be appropriate to apply standards relating to all terrain vehicles in general. The expert maintained that such standards require that the foot rung be skid resistant.

The defendant contended that the forklift as designed and manufactured was safe. The defendant’s engineer maintained that the design achieved "three points of contact," explaining that at any given moment, three of a worker’s four limbs are in contact with either the foot pedal or the grab bars. The defendant further pointed out that the foot rung had a sharpened edge which prevented the accumulation of debris and rendered it adequately skid resistant.

The injuries were addressed through open surgery and the plaintiff contended that he will permanently suffer significant pain and restriction and be precluded from returning to work. The defendant countered that after the accident, the plaintiff returned to work, was subsequently terminated, and brought an age discrimination action, certifying that he was capable of working.

The jury found for the defendant.

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