A jury in Wisconsin has awarded $12.3 million to a loading dock repair man who was severely injured in a trucking accident at a frozen food facility in Walworth County, Wisconsin. A truck driver for Frozen Food Express failed to conduct a walk-around, and repeatedly crushed the man against a wall.
Birds Eye foods hired Marlin Michael Bradway to repair loading dock "locks" at its facility in Wisconsin. A dock lock is a device that slides under a truck trailer's ICC bar, securing it flush to the dock wall to make it safe to unload with fork lifts.
Upon arriving at work on February 6, 2009, Bradway inspected a new loading dock, which had been having problems getting the trucks to lock to the dock when backing into the dock to unload frozen food. Bradway noticed a truck and trailer owned by Frozen Food Express Industries at one of the docks. He inspected the vehicle, and determined that the truck and trailer were not in use, and that there was no driver in the truck or near it. Unknown to him, the driver was in the sleeper cab.
The truck was parked with the trailer touching the lip of the dock lock, some 30 inches from the concrete dock wall. Bradway stepped into the 30-inch space to see if the lock would compress properly. Meanwhile, a dock warehouse suprervisor saw that the trailer was not locked in, walked to the truck, found the driver and told him to back up his truck. The truck driver, without conducting a walk-around to inspect the area around the truck and trailer, or otherwise warning the plaintiff, backed up to the dock, crushing Bradway repeatedly between the trailer and the loading dock wall.
Bradway sustained a severe crush injury to his pelvic and midsection, which caused him to undergo extensive medical treatment to repair his pelvis, urethra and intestines, including but not limited to hospitalization, rehabilitation, and other care. As a result of this accident, he will continue to suffer permanent injuries effecting his quality of daily life.
The trucking company argued that Bradway broke his work safety rules by getting into the confined space behind the truck when he knew it was going to unload, because its doors were open. The trucking company blamed Birds Eye for not telling drivers that the docks were not working.
The jury found that Frozen Food Express Industries was negligent in the training of its commercial truck driver. The driver was also found negligent in the operation of the truck. The $12.3 million verdict rendered by the Milwaukee County jury will be subject to a 30% reduction, due to a finding of comparative negligence on the part of Bradway. The jury also awarded $3 million to Bradway’s wife, Becky, for loss of consortium.
“This has truly changed our client’s lives. We trusted the people of Milwaukee county to judge the conduct of our client and the trucking company and we believe they got it right,” Schulte said. “Finally Frozen Food Express is forced to accept responsibility for their actions.”
Bradway was represented by Richard W. Schulte of Dayton, OH, founding partner of Wright & Schulte LLC, and Jay Urban, of Urban Taylor, S.C. The case is Bradway v. Frozen Food Express, case no. 2009CV011068.