Truck driver seeks more than $1 million for injuries

Steve Gonzalez Nov. 19, 2004, 3:52pm

A failed ratchet system has caused truck driver Larry Sandage injuries so severe that he and his wife are seeking more than $1 million to ease their suffering. Larry's wife, Sheila Sandage, who was dependent upon her husband for income and consortium, seeks $300,000.

The Sandages filed a 19-count lawsuit in Madison County Circuit Court on Nov. 19 against Cottrell Inc., Lisa Shashek, Cassens & Sons Inc., Cassens Corporation, General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, and other "unknown" defendants.

Sandage, who was employed by Cassens Transport, alleges that on Nov. 18, 2002, he was performing his normal duties as a car hauler for his Illinois-based employer in Missouri.

On that day, Sandage claims he was injured while operating the ratchet system, a rig manufactured by the defendant, Cottrell.

The plaintiff alleges that while attempting to perform his normal work activities in the intended fashion, he sustained severe and permanent injuries to his neck and right shoulder. Sandage also claims he suffered repetitive trauma while exerting required and foreseeable force and pressure on the ratchet system.

His disfiguring injuries are permanent in nature, Sandage claims, and as a result he suffered and will continue to suffer pain and mental anguish.

He also claims that he has been required to spend large sums of money in order to obtain medical treatment for his injuries and will be required to expend large sums of money in order to obtain medical treatment in the future.

In addition to "large sums of money" to pay for medical treatment, Sandage claims his condition "is such that he may be forced to expend money for vocational rehab or convalescent care," according to the complaint.

The couple is represented by Charles Armbruster III of the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River.

Cottrell Inc. is named in the suit as it is believed to have designed, distributed and is the successor to the design of the rig. The identity of the manufacturer and current custodian of the broken chain is unknown to Sandage, but immediate disclosure of same by the defendants is requested.

Sandage believes Lisa Shashek who is the owner, commercial lessor and distributor of the rig which he was injured, knew of the propensity of the product to cause injury.

He also alleges the rig was operated, distributed, leased, and placed into the stream of commerce by defendants who each profited from the purchase, sale, lease and use of the rig, and each defendant was in a position to make the rig safe.

Sandage claims that at the time of its manufacture, the rig was defective and not reasonably safe in the following ways:
The rigs lacked reasonably safe vehicle securement systems, the rigs were supplied with chains incapable of withstanding the stress or force inherent in the use of the rigs, and that the rigs lacked adequate warnings to sufficiently warn him of the defects.

Sandage also alleges the rigs were not accompanied by a non-manual vehicle securement system, reduced gear ratchet, cables, straps, heavier chains, wheel chocks or wheel clamps.

A judgment in excess of $50,000 against Cottrell Inc. is being sought for its failure to review and analyze injury and testing data, failing to test the rigs to ascertain whether the vehicle securement system on the rigs was reasonably safe, failing to supply Sandage with warnings, and failing to modify the design when the manufacturer knew or should have known of the excessive number of injuries associated with the rigs.

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