Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Pennsylvania man claims amputation was due to faulty lift

Strict liability involves Allegheny County tort cases that do not require a plaintiff to supply evidence of a defendant's carelessness. Compensation may be awarded only with proof that harm was done by a manufacturer's unsafe product.

A Philadelphia couple recently filed a multi-defendant products liability lawsuit over injuries the husband received using a liftgate, a mechanized device that assists with vehicle loading. Ryder Fleet Products was blamed for making the faulty product.

According to the federal complaint, the Bucks County husband suffered several injuries, including nerve damage and a finger amputation, after a Ryder liftgate fell on his shoulder and hand. The plaintiff said the injuries occurred two years ago, while he was trying to save another man from being harmed by the lifting device.

Court records said the plaintiff called a towing company for assistance, after realizing a truck's liftgate was working improperly. A dispatched mechanic was beneath the liftgate, when it apparently started to fall. The plaintiff was struck, as he reached out to keep the manufacturer's product from hurting the mechanic.

The plaintiff required emergency surgery and repeat hospital visits. The claim said the amputation of an index finger and other injuries caused disfigurement and reduced physical movement and functions. As a result, the complaint said the truck driver's social life, financial status and employment suffered.

Loss of consortium damages, negligence and breach of warranty allegations also were filed.

The filing said the liftgate's faults were numerous. Ryder is charged with making a product without a safety guard, a working hydraulic system or a properly fitting hose attachment. The plaintiffs said warnings were not provided for the liftgate, which also failed to meet manufacturing and legal standards.

A manufacturer may be able to escape civil responsibility by proving the general public, including the plaintiff, was aware of the product's defects. In some cases, juries decide plaintiffs also share fault.

Source: The Pennsylvania Record, "Pa. truck driver sues Ryder Fleet Products over crushed hand from liftgate" Jon Campisi, Jan. 30, 2014

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