Family of worker crushed in conveyor belt sues

Steve Gonzalez Aug. 16, 2007, 5:00am

The estate of a 27-year-old man who died on the job after his head and upper torso were wedged and compressed in a conveyor belt has filed a wrongful death and product liability suit in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

According to the complaint filed Aug. 9, J.D. Croom, Jr. died on March 22, 2006, in an accident at Mid-America Fiber in Sauget after only a month on the job.

Defendants include Rando Machine, Rockwell Automation, Todd-Long Picker Apron, Fiber Controls and Kopf Electric Motor.

Represented by one of his three minor children, the estate claims Croom was required to clean off all sides of the conveyor belt's rollers while the spray bond line machine was in operation.

"While Croom was engaged in cleaning the machine, his head and upper torso were pulled into the machine, causing his head and upper torso to be compressed and crushed causing his death," the complaint states.

His estate claims that at the time of the assembly and distribution of the spray bond line machine it was in a defective and unreasonably defective condition when put to a reasonably anticipated use.

According to the complaint, the machine was not equipped with adequate safety guard provisions to prevent an operator's body or head from becoming entrapped in the rollers of the conveyor, was not equipped with an adequate release mechanism to prevent trapping an operator's head and was not equipped with a reverse mechanism.

The estate also claims the machine was not equipped with an automatic scrapping or cleaning mechanism, failed to display adequate warnings of the dangers associated with it, and was not equipped with an emergency stop.

"The defective and unreasonably dangerous condition of the spray bond line machine existed at the time the machine was designed, manufactured, distributed and/or sold, assembled and/or constructed by Defendants," the complaint alleges.

The estate claims as a result of Croom's death, his children have forever lost the services, society, companionship, consortium, love and support of their father.

Represented by John Simon and Jeff Roseman of Simon Passanante in St. Louis, Croom's estate is seeking damages in excess of $100,000, plus costs.

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