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$3,258,000 Jury Verdict in Forklift Injury Lawsuit

A delivery truck helper was distributing beverages to a supermarket when he was suddenly hit by a forklift operated by a supermarket employee. As a result of the accident, he sustained multiple fractures and lumbar spinal injuries requiring surgery. The case was tried before a Bronx jury, and he was awarded $3,258,000 in compensation.

Age and Occupation of Plaintiff
Plaintiff was a 38 year-old delivery truck helper at the time of the accident.

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Case Description
Plaintiff was at a Fairway supermarket at 2127 Broadway in upper Manhattan, in the course of his employment, delivering beverages. After speaking with a helper from another delivery truck, he stepped onto the roadway and was struck by a forklift being operated by the Fairway employee who was unloading a truck in front of the store.

This was a very difficult case on liability based on the facts of the case and evidence presented at trial. The Plaintiff argued that the Defendant Fairway was negligent in the way it conducted its delivery receiving operations and that the forklift operator was negligent in the way he operated the forklift at the time of the accident. The Plaintiff also acknowledged that he was partially at fault for the happening of the accident.

The Defendants argued that the Plaintiff was 100% at fault for the accident and elicited testimony from several witnesses, including a non-party witness who witnessed the accident and one who spoke with the Plaintiff a few days post-accident, that the Plaintiff stepped backwards off of the curb into the path of the forklift so suddenly before the impact that the forklift operator could not have avoided the accident. The Defendants also alleged the Plaintiff was 100% at fault for the accident because of the testimony that the Plaintiff knew there was a truck being unloaded by the forklift and still decided to step into the roadway; had been at the subject supermarket weekly for six (6) years prior to the date of the accident and was well aware of supermarket’s receiving operations. The Defendants also argued that the Plaintiff’s own liability expert admitted that the safest place for the Plaintiff to stand during the truck unloading was the sidewalk and that the accident would not have occurred had the Plaintiff not stepped off of the curb.

The Plaintiff suffered a displaced comminuted fracture of the left tibia-fibula; Grade III open Pilon fracture which required an immediate external fixator; open reduction and internal fixation surgery one week post-accident and then surgery for hardware removal two (2) years post-accident. The Plaintiff also alleged to have suffered lumbar spine injuries as a result of the accident for which he initially conservatively treated and eventually required a two-level lumbar fusion at the L3-4 and L4-5 levels. The Plaintiff also alleged that the accident and his resultant injuries caused him to suffer from depression for which he needed treatment with a psychologist and medication. The Plaintiff also alleged economic damages for past and future medical expenses and past and future lost wages.

Verdict Amount
After 18 days of trial, the Plaintiff obtained a verdict of $3,620,000, with the jury finding the Defendants 90% responsible for the accident and the Plaintiff 10%, resulting in a total verdict, after apportionment of liability, of $3,258,000. The case was tried before a Bronx jury.

The case was handled by trial lawyers Scott Occhiogrosso and Frederick C. Aranki.

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