Tractor trailer load crushes driver, suit claims

Steve Gonzalez Jun. 4, 2008, 8:00pm

The estate of Steve DeVries filed a wrongful death complaint against Metro Contract Services (MCS) and Ace Doran Hauling & Rigging Company alleging DeVries was killed when the load on his tractor trailer fell on top of him.

According to the complaint filed May 29 in Madison County Circuit Court, DeVries was employed by Smith Trucking as a driver from August 2006 through August 2007.

In August 2007, Smith Trucking was hired to haul an enclosed semi-trailer load containing miscellaneous piping machinery and a large control panel to be used in the operation of a water treatment plant.

DeVries' estate alleges he was dispatched to Tower Automotive in Granite City to pick up the load.

According to the complaint, MCS and Ace Doran were the responsible parties who loaded, rigged, arranged, chained, positioned, secured, organized and contracted with other people to load the water treatment plant equipment in DeVries' enclosed semi-trailer.

The estate alleges DeVries departed from Granite City once his trailer was loaded and drove to the Smith parking lot in Bethel Heights, Ark. where the trailer was to remain until he was to depart for the anticipated delivery location in Oklahoma.

DeVries' estate alleges that while in the Smith parking lot the large control panel fell out of the back of his semi-trailer.

"The control panel fell on top of Mr. DeVries causing him to sustain serious, critical, and catastrophic injuries, resulting in his death on the same day," the complaint states.

His estate claims the defendants had a duty to exercise ordinary and reasonable care for DeVries' safety and knew or should have known that improperly loading the trailer with materials within the trailer can cause injury or death to the truck driver, other motorists and people required to inspect or unload the materials.

The estate alleges MCS and Ace Doran were guilty of one or more of the following negligent acts:

  • Failing to properly secure the large control panel with appropriate rigging and shipping equipment;

  • Failing to warn him of the heavy and dangerous weight of the control panel;

  • Failing to properly position the control panel in a stable position so it could not fall out or over the trailer;

  • Failing to warn him of the unstable positioning of the large control panel;

  • Failing to organize the load with sufficient space for the large control panel within the trailer;

  • Failing to supervise other parties responsible for the loading of the water treatment plant equipment; and

  • Failing to retain or contract the services of persons or companies with proper knowledge, abilities, and/or expertise to load the water treatment plant equipment in a safe and proper manner.

    According to the estate, as a result of DeVries death, his wife suffered and continues to suffer from the loss of his society, emotional support, affection, financial support and funeral costs.

    His estate also claims that his wife will suffer losses of his future earnings, loss of his contribution to properties, possessions, medical benefits, retirement savings and other duties and responsibilities.

    Represented by Shane Hampton and Ted Gianaris of SimmonsCooper in East Alton, DeVries' estate is seeking damages in excess of $150,000, plus costs.

    The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder.

    08 L 465

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