$3,175,000 Settlement for Truck Driver Hit by Forklift While Making a Delivery
DATE OF SETTLEMENT
October 17, 2017
COURT AND COUNTY
Supreme Court, Queens County
AGE AND OCCUPATION OF PLAINTIFF:
Plaintiff is 38 years old. Employed as a Truck Driver.
FACTS AND ALLEGATIONS
On October 25, 2014, at approximately 1:40 pm, Plaintiff was making a delivery as a truck driver in the course of his employment to JFK Airport Building 66, British Airways World Cargo Loading Area, Dock #2, Jamaica, New York. Defendant, a forklift operator driving a forklift in the course of his employment, was operating the forklift on the loading dock with fully loaded pallet skid loaded onto front end of forklift that obstructed his view of what was directly in front of his vehicle.
Plaintiff alleges that as the forklift operator was operating the forklift in a forward direction, he struck Plaintiff with the load he was carrying, knocking him to the floor. The forklift operator alleged that he did not directly strike the Plaintiff with the load he was carrying but the Plaintiff was walking in an authorized area when the forklift operator placed a fully loaded pallet on the floor which bumped another pallet that struck the Plaintiff. A non-party witness supported the Plaintiff’s version of the accident. Plaintiff also disclosed a liability expert who opined that the forklift operator was negligent in the operation of the subject forklift in that he should have been operating it in reverse since his forward vision was obstructed; that Cargo Airport Services had a duty to provide a safe workplace and environment for their invited workers/drivers (such as Plaintiff) and it breached this duty in that it created a dangerous condition and environment for visiting workers/drivers such as the Plaintiff; that Cargo Airport Services unsafely and improperly allowed the aisle, passageway and/or walkway within the area they require invited workers such as Plaintiff to walk to be cluttered and encroached upon by forklift traffic; and that Cargo Airport Services negligently trained Ali in forklift operations.
Defendants argued that Plaintiff was an experienced truck driver and had been to the subject warehouse/loading dock many times prior to the accident and was aware of its operations. Defendants’ liability expert opined that the Plaintiff was partially at fault for the accident for being inattentive, failing to use the requisite level of vigilance and attention that is expected of an experienced truck driver walking in an environment where he knew and was on notice that forklifts were operating.
INJURIES AND DAMAGES
As a result of the accident the Plaintiff injured his right knee and lumbar spine. MRI of the right knee taken on January 2, 2015, revealed a tear of the posterior horn of the medial meniscus. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on April 16, 2015, which confirmed the posterior meniscus tear and revealed a tear in the lateral meniscus.
Plaintiff was also diagnosed with a lumbar spine herniation at L5-S1 pursuant to MRI taken on December 2, 2014. He underwent one lumbar epidural steroid injection on February 23, 2015, and then lumbar fusion surgery at L5-S1 on February 25, 2016. Post-operatively he underwent physical therapy until May 2017. Since then, Plaintiff has been presenting for bi-monthly follow up visits with his spine surgeon.
Plaintiff was employed as a non-union truck driver at the time of the accident. As a result of the accident he was out of work for two (2) months and returned to work in the same capacity and at the same salary until his knee surgery on April 16, 2015. After his knee surgery, he returned to work in the same capacity and at the same salary until February 24, 2016, the day before his lumbar surgery. Plaintiff alleges to be disabled from employment since the date of the lumbar surgery. Plaintiff made claims for future lost income, loss in Social Security retirement income and future medical expenses.
The parties negotiated a $3,175,000 pretrial settlement with the assistance of an independent mediator.
This case was handled by Daniel P. O’Toole, Esq. and Frederick C. Aranki, Esq.