Tennessee couple sues Cottrell, Nissan in St. Clair County

Kelly Holleran Jul. 22, 2009, 9:49am

A Tennessee man and woman say the man was permanently disabled while performing his normal work duties as a car hauler.

Jeffrey T. and Angela Ellis filed a lawsuit July 17 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Hansen and Adkins Auto Transport, Nissan North America and Cottrell.

The plaintiffs claim Jeffrey Ellis was originally hired by Premium of Tennessee but was leased to Hansen to perform car hauling duties.

While operating a ratchet and tie down system as part of his duties on July 21, 2008, Jeffrey Ellis received disfiguring and permanent injuries because of the force he was required to exert on the system, according to the complaint.

In addition, he sustained pain and mental anguish, incurred medical costs and lost wages, the suit states.

The plaintiffs blame the defendants for a number of negligent acts, including providing a rig that lacked reasonably safe vehicle securement systems; for supplying chains incapable of handling the stress of a rig; for a rig that lacked adequate warnings about the risk of injuries to the plaintiff; and for supplying a rig that was not accompanied by a non-manual vehicle securement system and that was prone to sudden releases.

In addition, the Ellises say Nissan should have known about the dangerous propensity of its tie down securing system, which it required as a condition of transporting its vehicles, because of the many complaints about them.

"Defendant Nissan has been fully aware for years prior to Plaintiff's injury that safer tie down securing systems have been reasonably available in the marketplace for many years," the complaint says. "Despite this superior knowledge of the defective nature of the product, Defendant Nissan took no action to change the specifications, requirements and guidelines for vehicle tie down systems utilized by car haulers to transport Nissan vehicles in America."

In the six-count suit, Jeffrey and Angela Ellis are seeking a judgment of more than $300,000, plus costs.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-381.

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