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$________ Trailer floor gives way as plaintiff forklift operator is unloading goods from tractor-trailer - Forklift drops several feet - Wrenching injury - Lumbar herniation.

Erie County

The plaintiff contended that the defendant shipping company negligently failed to adequately inspect and maintain the floor of its trailer. The plaintiff, who was using a forklift to unload the trailer at the plaintiff’s place of business, contended that a portion of the floor failed under him and that the he was subjected to severe wrenching when the forklift he was operating dropped several feet. The forklift did not fall through the floor. The defendant contended that the trailer was properly inspected and maintained.

The plaintiff countered that the jury should consider that the defendant is permitted to have its own employees, rather than state employees conduct the inspection, and that it has a vested interest in keeping the trucks on the road.

The defendant did not produce a liability expert.

The plaintiff maintained that he suffered a herniation at L4,5 that was confirmed by MRI. The plaintiff contended that he would otherwise be a surgical candidate, but that unrelated health issues and an overweight condition render such surgery dangerous. The plaintiff further contended that he will permanently be unable to work.

The defendant questioned if the herniation was caused by the incident, The defendant pointed to two other instances involving the plaintiffs back that required treatment. These included an episode approximately one month before and a second episode after the subject incident. The second episode occurred approximately one month before the plaintiff underwent the MRI.

The plaintiff countered that the first incident was not related to trauma, and that the onset of back pain radiating to the chest prompted a concern regarding a possible pulmonary embolism that was subsequently ruled out.

The plaintiff also maintained that the second incident was merely the result of some twisting, involved a much less significant trauma than the forklift incident, and required the short-term use of medication only.

The jury found the defendant ________% negligent and awarded $________.The case subsequently settled for $________.

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