Man falls from top of his rig, sues

Kelly Holleran Oct. 13, 2009, 6:19am

A trucker claims he was seriously injured after he slipped and fell from the top of his rig.

James and Melissa Owens filed a lawsuit Oct. 2 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Fleet Car Lease, Fleet Car Carriers, CCJ Auto Transport, Cottrell and other unknown defendants.

On Oct. 2, 2007, James Owens was operating a rig when he slipped and fell from it, according to the complaint.

Because of his fall, James Owens required medical treatment, which made him lose time from work, incurred medical costs and suffered severe pain, mental anguish, disfigurement and scarring, the suit states.

Melissa Owens has been deprived of her husband's support and services, the complaint says.

James Owens was not the only person to have been injured by a Cottrell rig. In fact, Cottrell continued to treat the injuries of its employees as a minor business expense despite urgings that its behavior must cease, the Owens claim.

James Owens blames FCC, FCL, CCJ, Cottrell and the unknown defendants for failing to equip the rig with warnings to advise of its dangerous conditions, for manufacturing the rig without sufficient handholds and without sufficient footing and walkway traction surfaces.

In addition, they "placed profits above safety by persistently refusing to read, consider, share, disseminate or even acknowledge the existence of safety data, ergonomic engineer, published engineer and other safety reports specifically and expressly critical of the design identical to or substantially similar to the design in issue," the suit states.

Cottrell may have gained a competitive advantage by increasing the carrying capacity of its rigs, but it endangered drivers while doing so, according to the complaint.

In the 11-count suit, the Owens are seeking a judgment of more than $500,000, plus $50,000 in both exemplary and punitive damages and costs.

Brian M. Wendler of Wendler Law in Edwardsville will be representing them.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-529.

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