Forklift operator claims Prairie Farms at fault for injuries

Steve Gonzalez Jun. 14, 2005, 6:50am

Prairie Farms in Granite City

Granite City resident Edward Smith filed suit in Madison County Circuit Court June 10 against his employer Prairie Farms Dairy over injuries he received while operating a forklift.

Smith also is seeking damages against Shipping Utilities--which leased the forklift to Prairie Farms, Citicapital Commerical, forklift owner and Hyster, the forklift's manufacturer.

According to the suit, Smith was operating a forklift to pick up a skid of bundled cardboard from the loading dock to a location inside Prairie Farms in Granite City on June 14, 2003. As he neared the end of the loading dock, the forklift suddenly stalled and without warning lurched forward sending the forklift and the skid off the dock edge, Smith alleges.

Margaret Joann Smith, Edward’s wife, claims that as a result of her husband’s injuries she has been deprived of the love, companionship and support of her husband.

The Smiths' 14-count suit seeks damages in excess of $700,000 or at least $50,000 per count. They are represented by Ronald Roth and Peter Blasi of Roth & Evans of Granite City.

Smith claims that Shipping Utilities and Citicapital negligently inspected, leased and maintained the forklift and distributed the forklift in a defective and hazardous condition.

The suit claims that Hyster negligently designed a forklift that would stall and lurch forward unexpectedly and failed to provide warnings regarding the alleged defective condition.

Smith accuses Prairie Farms of altering the forklift even though they were warned not to.

“Prairie Farms was explicitly advised and warned not to destroy, alter or modify the forklift in any manner as it was the subject of a potential civil lawsuit,” the suit states.

Smith claims Prairie Farms removed and altered the power source and component parts, modified and altered the forklift, destroyed or lost crucial parts, and failed to safeguard the forklift by allowing Shipping Utilities to take the forklift and sell it to a third party 1,500 miles away without notice to him or his attorneys.

He claims permanent and serious injuries, as well as permanent pain and mental anguish. Smith also claims he has became liable for large sums of money in hospital and medical expenses, and has lost wages and been prevented from attending to his usual affairs and duties.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron.
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