A Clinton County man says he sustained severe brain damage after a handle he used to assist him into a truck broke off, causing him to fall and hit his head on the ground.

Lonny and Lora Schultz filed a lawsuit Sept. 8 in Madison County Circuit Court against Chrysler Group and Cassens and Sons.

The Schultzes claim Lonny Schultz attempted to use the grab bar to assist his entry into a 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab truck on March 23 when the handle suddenly broke away from the truck. Lonny Schultz fell backwards and down onto the pavement where he hit his head, according to the complaint.

"As a result of the Grab Handle breaking off and causing him to fall, Plaintiff suffered near fatal injuries including permanent brain damage," the suit states. "Plaintiff continues to receive treatment to this day because of the injuries he suffered."

In addition to his brain damage, Lonny Schultz suffered a subdural hematoma and experiences difficulty focusing, confusion, difficulty balancing, lethargy, weakness in his legs and arms, difficulty sleeping, memory loss, headaches, nausea, slurred speech and loss of work, the complaint says.

Because of her husband's problems, Lora Schultz has lost his services, support, society, companionship and consortium, the suit states.

The Schultzes blames Chrysler for causing Lonny Schultz's fall, saying the company knew of the defective grab bar handles as early as 2004, but failed to notify the truck's owners of its potentially hazardous condition.

According to the Schultzes' complaint, Chrysler defectively designed the grab bar on the truck, failed to design a truck with a grab bar strong enough to support the weight of someone using it, sold the truck with inferior plastic parts, designed a grab bar that could not withstand the physical forces exerted by people using the handle, failed to design a grab bar that was safe for its intended use and failed to put the grab bar through adequate testing.

Not only do the Schultzes name Chrysler as a defendant, but they also list Cassens as a defendant because it sold the vehicle to the couple and failed to warn them of any defects, the suit states.

In their 12-count complaint, the Schultzes seek a judgment of more than $975,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

John G. Simon and Ryan A. Keane of The Simon Law Firm in St. Louis and Stuart Cofman of Cofman and Townsley in St. Louis will be
representing them.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-935.

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