Cottrell Inc. on Friday called for a March 23 hearing in a couple's case against the trucking company over injuries from a fall.

John and Jacqueline Thompson claim Cottrell and co-defendant Auto Handling Corp. were warned about the lack of traction on their trucks before John Thompson was hurt in a fall from the top of a truck.

Thompson was allegedly working as a car hauler in Granite City on Aug. 14, 2008, when he fell to the ground from a rail at the top of his rig.

Thompson allegedly sustained injuries to his right and left shoulder and experienced pain. He also was disfigured, incurred medical costs, lost wages and may be forced to retire early, the complaint says.

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

Cottrell wrote in Friday's notice that it is calling for a hearing based on its motion for a stay and application to compel arbitration.

"Plaintiff is a Teamster working pursuant to a federal Collective Bargaining Agreement. He has filed a design defect lawsuit for an on-the-job injury, blaming the same design that his bargaining agent negotiated for the employer to provide union drivers under the CBA," according to a motion filed March 2.

"In as broad a grievance procedure as possible, plaintiff agreed to grieve 'all' complaints involving 'alleged unsafe or unhealthful workplace conditions,'" the motion states.

Mudge on Feb. 24 ordered all pending motions for March 9.

The Thompsons seek a judgment of more than $50,000.

Cottrell wrote in its defense to the lawsuit that plaintiff Thompson failed to keep a proper lookout, failed to control the rig, and failed to care for his own physical well-being, and assumption of the risk or misuse of the product was the result.

"Plaintiffs' alleged damages were solely the result of acts, omissions and conduct of persons over whom Cottrell exercised no control," the defense' answer says.

Brian M. Wendler and Thomas G. Maag of Wendler Law in Edwardsville represent the Thompsons.

Daniel Carpenter, Amy Lorenz-Moser and Theresa Lynch from Armstrong Teasdale are the attorneys for Defendant Cottrell.

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

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