Cottrell, Nissan named in trucker's injury suit

By Kelly Holleran | Jul 20, 2009

Three trucking companies are being sued by a couple who say the companies' trucks are unreasonably dangerous and led to the man's multiple repetitive injuries.

John and Ann Dorrell filed a lawsuit July 14 in Madison County Circuit Court against Cottrell Inc., Auto Handling Corporation and Nissan North America.

The Dorrells allege John Dorrell worked as a car hauler for Jack Cooper Transport Company on March 31, 2008, when he was injured while using the ratchet tie down systems on a Cottrell truck.

The injuries occurred because Cottrell failed to modify its trucks and failed to provide warnings about the dangers of the tie down systems, according to the complaint.

"Such actions and inactions by the defendant were motivated by the defendant's desire to increase profits and decrease costs," the suit states. "As such defendants placed profits above the safety of the users of the above described vehicle securement system, including the plaintiff."

Because of the required force he had to place on the tie down systems, John Dorrell injured his right arm and shoulder and suffered pain and mental anguish. He also has incurred substantial medical expenses and lost wages and his earning capacity, according to the complaint.

On Feb. 8, John Dorrell was again injured while attempting to push a skid back into a trailer after it had come loose and was dragging on the road behind the truck, the complaint says.

"While pushing the skid back into the trailer, the skid jammed while pushing it back in due to an improper weld, causing plaintiff's body to be jerked and to fall to the ground, at which point plaintiff saw a skid stop had fallen to the ground," the suit states.

Due to the February incident, Dorrell claims he permanently injured his shoulder and back.

The Dorrells' lawsuit is one of many that have been filed against Cottrell for similar injuries, according to the complaint.

"Notwithstanding the above and in conscious disregard of the known risks to which plaintiff and others were similarly situated were subjected, defendant Cottrell failed to modify the skid design, continued to provide unreasonably dangerous and defective skid systems, and failed to provide good and sufficient warnings and instructions with regards to the dangers inherent in the use of the skid systems with the aforesaid conditions contained therein," the complaint says.

The Dorrells blame Auto Handling Corporation because it was responsible for maintaining the Cottrell rigs on which John Dorrell was injured.

Throughout his career, John Dorrell used Nissan trucks, which used vehicle securement systems to attach trailers attached to their rears, the complaint says.

In addition to the Cottrell trucks' defects, the repeated use of unsafe vehicle securement systems on Nissan trucks caused John Dorrell to receive his injuries, according to the complaint.

Because of her husband's injuries, Ann Dorrell says she has been deprived of his support and services and has been "unjustly exposed to the potential for financial ruin."

In the 10-count suit, the Dorrells are seeking a judgment of more than $550,000, plus compensatory damages of more than $150,000, exemplary or punitive damages of more than $150,000 and costs.

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

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-725.

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