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Montana Jury Awards $4M to Driver for Injuries from Unloading Logs

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A Montana jury has awarded nearly $4 million to a man and his wife over injuries he received in 2008 while unloading logs at a pulp mill.

The Missoula County jury deliberated two hours Wednesday before delivering its verdict that Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. and a subsidiary owed Allen Ginn and his wife, Laurie, that much for medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering and the loss of his established course of life.

“There are very few verdicts in Missoula County that are higher than this,” said Zander Blewett, Ginn’s attorney. “I’m not saying that there aren’t any, but none come to mind at the moment.”

Ginn, 52, owned two logging companies at the time of the accident. He was delivering a truckload of logs to the Smurfit-Stone pulp mill outside of Missoula when one of the logs “sprung loose” while the shipment was being unloaded and struck Ginn, his lawsuit alleged.

The log struck him on his head and body, causing a brain injury, fracturing his back in three places and fracturing his pelvis, Blewett said.

Now, Ginn has seizures, suffers from a loss of memory and cognition and can’t stand for long periods of time, Blewett said.

The lawsuit alleged the accident could have been prevented, but Smurfit-Stone failed to provide a rack that is normally used to safely unload logs. Instead, the load was released without first being secured, according to the lawsuit.

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