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$3,800,000 in Products Liability Case for Driver Injured as a Result of a Defective Trailer Step

Supreme Court, Suffolk County

At the time of the occurrence, Plaintiff was a 39 year old union delivery driver.

Plaintiff worked as a union beverage delivery driver for a beverage distribution company on Long Island. At the time of the accident, Plaintiff had completed his route and was performing an inventory accounting of the beverage products that remained in his truck. While performing the accounting, Plaintiff was standing on a pull out step, located in the front passenger bay of the truck trailer, when the step he was standing on broke, causing Plaintiff to fall backwards into another truck parked next to him.

The trailer involved in the accident was a MegaFlex trailer, designed and manufactured for the use of the distribution of beverage products. The trailer was built and sold by Defendants. The trailer itself is an 18 bay beverage distribution trailer. Each bay of the trailers is 4 feet off the ground. At the base of each bay there is a swing out steps (sometimes referred to as pull out steps or step ladders) that the delivery person uses to access the bays where the beverage products are stored. The step that broke has two vertical aluminum poles that are welded to an aluminum step.

The swing out step was originally designed in the early 1990’s and had been in use for over 20 years at the time of the accident. The step was manufactured, assembled and installed by Defendant employed welders. The trailers, including the steps, had a written warranty for 36 months or 100,000 miles from date of delivery. The anticipated use for the step included workers standing on them, along with products, in order to deliver beverages. There was no weight restriction for the step, no anticipated shelf life for the step and no warnings with respect to the use of the step or risk of the step failing.

Plaintiff alleged that the step failed due to a defect in the manufacturers weld when the truck was assembled by Defendants. In addition to the step involved in Plaintiff’s accident, there were multiple other steps that failed on several trucks manufactured, assembled and sold by Defendants. Several steps failed prior to Plaintiff’s accident.

During discovery, documents were uncovered that revealed Defendants admitted that a manufacturing defect caused the step to fail.

As a result of the step weld failure, Plaintiff fell backwards, causing his head, neck and back to strike a trailer parked behind him. As a result of the impact, Plaintiff experienced immediate pain to his head, neck and back.

Immediately following the accident, Plaintiff was driven by a supervisor to a medical facility in Long Island with complaints of pain to the head, neck, right shoulder, right arm and back. He also experienced right arm tingling. He was treated and released, with a recommendation to follow up with a physician.

Four days later, Plaintiff presented to a pain management physician with continued pain to the head, neck, right shoulder, right arm and low back. He was also experiencing tingling in the middle, index and thumb of his right hand. Plaintiff was given trigger injections, a Toradol injection and prescription for pain medications.

Ultimately, due to ongoing symptoms, Plaintiff underwent an MRI that revealed a disc herniation at C5/6 indenting the spinal cord. Plaintiff was referred to neurosurgeon, who diagnosed a large disc herniation at C5/6. Ultimately, due to the worsening of his symptoms Plaintiff underwent an Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion at C5/6, with intraoperative findings of a large extruded disc herniation at C5/6, severely compressing the right C6 nerve root.

Following surgery, Plaintiff underwent conservative care, including physical therapy, trigger injections, epidural injection and nerve block injections, however his symptoms continued to persist. Plaintiff was ultimately diagnosed with failed back surgery syndrome and was recommended to undergo a further surgery. Thereafter, Plaintiff underwent a posterior decompression and fusion surgery at C4-7.

Plaintiff alleged that his symptoms were as a result of the accident, requiring two cervical spine surgeries.

Defendants alleged that Plaintiff’s condition was as a result of a degenerative spine, including the presence of osteophyte formation.

Since the surgery, Plaintiff has experienced continued neck pain, with chronic radicular symptoms, requiring ongoing care, including pain management.

The matter was settled prior to trial for $3,800,000 by partners Jeffrey A. Block and S. Joseph Donahue

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