Car hauler cites 1979 injury stats in suit against Cottrell

Kelly Holleran Oct. 15, 2009, 3:13am

A man and his wife have filed suit against a trucking company over allegations that the man fell from the top of a rail on the truck.

John W. and Jacqueline M. Thompson claim defendants Cottrell Inc. and Auto Handling Corp. had plenty of warnings about the dangers of the lack of traction on their trucks before John W. Thompson was allegedly hurt.

In their complaint filed Oct. 6 in Madison County Circuit Court, John and Jacqueline Thompson claim John Thompson was working as a car hauler in Granite City on Aug. 14, 2008, when he fell off a rail at the top of his rig and fell to the ground.

As a result of the incident, John Thompson sustained severe and permanent damages to his right and left shoulder and experienced pain and mental anguish, the suit states. In addition, he was disfigured, incurred medical costs, lost wages and may be forced to retire early, the complaint says.

"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 further aware that the industry treated injuries, including the loss of highly skilled drivers, as a minor cost of doing business."

Cottrell negligently failed to equip its rig with safe ladders, footing, walkways, traction and handholds; failed to sufficiently warn of the dangers of its rig; failed to analyze injury and testing data; failed to adequately test its rigs to make sure it was safe; failed to redesign the rig when it knew that it was causing excessive injuries; and failed to impress on others the need to redesign similar rigs, the Thompsons claim.

In the six-count suit, the Thompsons are seeking a judgment of more than $250,000 and more than $50,000 in compensatory damages, plus costs.

The Thompsons will be represented by Brian M. Wendler and Thomas G. Maag of Wendler Law in Edwardsville.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-1067.

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