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Absence of hand-holds or ladder on dump truck - Disc herniation requiring surgery.

Burlington County, New Jersey

The male plaintiff dump truck operator in his mid-40’s contended that the dump truck owned by his employer was defective because of the absence of a ladder or hand-hold to enable him to climb into the dump body. The plaintiff contended that as a result, he slipped while attempting to climb into the dump body from the wheel in order to level dirt which had been placed into the dump body. The plaintiff named the manufacturer of the dump body itself as well as the dealership which supplied the cab and chassis.

The plaintiff’s expert engineer maintained that standards relating to cab-over-engine tractor-trailers which require such safeguards should be applicable to this vehicle. The defendants denied that such standards relating to cab-over-engine tractor- trailers in which drivers must climb in and out regularly should be applied to dump trucks. The plaintiff maintained that he sustained a lumbar herniation which required surgery and which will cause permanent pain. The plaintiff returned to similar work for a different employer some months later.

The defendant dump body manufacturer maintained that dump trucks can be put to many uses, that it offers such ladders and hand- holds as optional equipment and the defendants denied that the truck was defective. The defendant questioned if the herniation occurred in the manner advanced by the plaintiff and presented the former employer who testified that two weeks earlier, the plaintiff had advised him that he hurt his back in an incident at home. The plaintiff denied making such a statement.

The jury found for the defendants. p 7 3

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