Cottrell, URS Midwest named in another injury suit

Kelly Holleran Jul. 24, 2009, 5:44am

A man and his wife have filed suit against two trucking companies after they say the man fell from the top of a rig.

Dale and Lori Presnell claim Dale Presnell worked as a car hauler for URS Midwest and was using a Cottrell trailer on Dec. 18 when the incident occurred.

"Plaintiff, while attempting to maneuver on the upper deck of the rig in the course of his duties as a truck driver, sustained severe and permanent injuries when he fell from the top of the rig," the suit states.

Because of his fall, Dale Presnell suffered pain, mental anguish and injuries to his back and head, incurred medical costs and lost wages, according to the complaint filed July 21 in St. Clair County Circuit Court. He also may be forced to retire early, the complaint says.

Lori Presnell has lost the services and support of her husband, the suit states.

The Presnells claim Dale Presnell's fall would never have occurred if Cottrell had redesigned its trucks. However, the company placed profits over the safety of its employees when it decided not to redesign its trucks, according to the complaint.

"Defendant was aware that slips and falls from the trailers were reported to be a big problem in the industry," the suit states. "Defendant was further aware that in 1979 there was reported 2,549 slip and fall injuries. Defendant was also aware that University professors reported the need to add traction and handrails."

The Presnells blame Cottrell for a number of negligent acts, including manufacturing a rig that was not equipped with safe ladders, for including warnings and instructions that failed to sufficiently warn users of the truck's defects and for making a rig with no deck to walk or handrails to grasp onto.

In addition to Cottrell, United is named as a defendant because it modified the Cottrell rigs. One of the company's alterations was to remove handrails from the trucks, the complaint says.

"The defendant through its officers, directors and shareholders profited from the placement of rigs such as at issue into the stream of commerce," the suit states.

In the five-count complaint, the Presnells are seeking a judgment of more than $350,000, plus $100,000 in compensatory damages, $50,000 in exemplary damages and $50,000 in punitive damages. In addition, they are seeking costs and other relief the court deems just.

They are represented by Thomas G. Maag and Brian M. Wendler of Wendler Law in Edwardsville.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-388.

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