Articles Posted in Forklift Truck Injuries

On July 28, 2016, the defendant, Demetris D. Owens, delivered a semi-trailer truck to a warehouse loading dock at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

The plaintiff, Michael Heatherly II, a forklift operator, attempted to unload the materials inside the truck by driving his forklift onto the truck from the dock. As he moved the forklift over the threshold from the dock to the trailer, the truck rolled forward. With Heatherly inside, the forklift fell off the dock approximately 4 feet to the ground.

He suffered permanent spine injuries, which required physical therapy and steroid injections.  He did not undergo surgery. However, he is no longer able to work as a forklift driver and is unable to pursue a career as a union glazier as he intended before this tragic incident.

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Thomas Neuhengen was injured in a forklift accident allegedly caused by Frederick Neirinckx, a Global Experience Specialists employee. The judgment was entered in the amount of $12,228,068 in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages for Neuhengen. Global Experience appealed from that judgment.

Global Experience argued that the trial judge erred in refusing to dismiss Count III of the plaintiff’s complaint, which provided the predicate for the exemplary award for alleging willful and wanton conduct in hiring and training Neirinckx because Global Experience stipulated, before trial, that it would be vicariously liable for any negligent or careless conduct by Neirinckx.

In the appeal, Global Experience relied on the case of Neff v. Davenport Packing Co., 131 Ill.App.2d 791 (1971). In cases in which a complaint alleges negligence by an employee along with vicarious liability for that negligence against the employer, Neff calls for dismissing the negligence claims against the corporation if it admits liability for the employee’s conduct.

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Allen Ginn, the owner of a trucking company, drove his truck to a sawmill to unload the logs he was hauling. When he reached his designated unloading area, the mill employees instructed him to release the tie-down straps on his load. As he did that, a log fell onto him striking him directly on the head and back.

Ginn was 49 years old at the time and suffered a subdural hematoma, a subarachnoid hemorrhage and skull fractures. He also had spinal fractures at L1-3 and fractures to his right hip and the right side of his pelvis. He was in a coma for several days. He later went through a regimen of physical therapy and rehabilitation.

As a result of this incident, Ginn has suffered a brain injury, occasional seizures, memory loss and chronic fatigue. He will likely require supervision and assistance with daily living activities well into the future.

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On July 11, 2008, Tenesha Martin, an employee of a railroad, was operating a forklift while unloading the truck’s trailer at Canadian Pacific Railway’s docking area in Chicago. The forklift fell off the loading dock when the unmanned truck, owned by the defendant Central Transport Inc., rolled away from the dock causing her to sustain disabling lumbar disc injuries.

The defendant, Soo Line Railroad, argued that the trucking company, Central Transport, was at fault, while the trucking company blamed the railroad. Both defendants argued that Martin was contributorily negligent for choosing not to exercise due care and caution.

The presiding trial judge allowed evidence of Martin’s marijuana use in 2010 based on her history, which was given to a psychiatrist in 2011.

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In August 2008, 30-year-old Kevin Harrison was working for Norfolk Southern Railway when he was exposed to acid fumes from a leaking barrel at Norfolk’s rail yard in Hammond, Ind.  The acid had been shipped from Michigan in an inter-modal container owned by the defendant K Line America, which is a subsidiary of a Japanese company.

One day earlier, the driver for the defendant trucking company, Mason Dixon Intermodal, had selected the K Line container from those available at the Mason & Dixon’s Lines Inc. yard in Dearborn, Mich.

The Mason Dixon Intermodal driver inspected the interior of the container and then drove it to the loading dock of Beaver Packaging & Crating, where Beaver employees loaded 40- to 55-gallon polymer drums filled with 30 percent strength acetic acid into the inter-modal container. 

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Jeffrey Elder, 43, was brought to the emergency department at Provena St. Joseph Hospital in Joliet, Ill., with severe chest pains. The emergency department physician, Dr. Andrew Zwolski, determined that Elder was not having a heart attack. However, he did order a CT scan, which showed a dilated aorta. This often leads to a diagnosis of an aortic dissection.  If confirmed, an aortic dissection would require immediate surgical repair to save the life of the patient. Aortic dissection symptoms are similar to those of other heart problems, such as a heart attack. Typical signs and symptoms include sudden severe chest or upper back pain, shortness of breath, sweating and a weak pulse.


To rule in or out the diagnosis of the aortic dissection, a CT scan with contrast was required. Because Dr. Zwolski’s shift was ending, he instead chose to delay the contrast CT testing until Elder was admitted into a room.


Before leaving the hospital, Dr. Zwolski called another internist, Dr. Hussain, who was named as a defendant as well, to admit Elder and take over as the attending physician.  He also called the defendant cardiologist, Dr. Yi, to provide a cardiac consultation.


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