As a part-time employee at Best Buy in Bloomingdale, Illinois, Christopher Connors went to use the store’s hydraulic forklift to retrieve a television located in an elevated storage area. The lift Connors was using had an elevating work platform, equipped with an 11-foot retractable lanyard and body belt.
Connors put on the body belt, attached the retractable lanyard and rode up on the platform to the general vicinity where the television was located. He then left the lift platform and walked onto the store’s storage scaffolding. He alleges that as he pulled on the box, it began to tear and he stepped backward off the scaffold. The belt was too loose and slipped over his head, resulting in his fall 20 feet to the floor below.
Connors, 29-years-old at the time of the accident in 2008, suffered severe back and spine injuries, which prevented him from returning to work and the need for corrective surgery for his injuries. He suffered fractures to the right kneecap; both wrists; and right foot, including a Lisfranc fracture, in which three of the five metatarsal bones (the long bones between the toes and the ankle) became displaced from the tarsus bones of the ankle and heel. He also suffered herniated disks at L4-5 and had a failed fusion. His past medical expenses are estimated at $192,600.
His lawsuit claims that the manufacturer of the belt and the lift he had been using, Big Joe Manufacturing Company, was negligent because they failed to mandate the use of a full body harness as a fall protection system. He also alleged that Big Joe Manufacturing Company did not provide Best Buy with sufficient instructions or warnings about their product.
Connors contended that Big Joe provided full body harnesses with the lifts it sold in Canada and that the manufacturer was aware that only full body harnesses, not body belts, were adequate to protect workers. An expert witness testified that the manufacturer should have provided either a retractable lanyard with a full body harness or a fixed length lanyard, which would not have permitted workers to step off the work platform.
Connors also alleged that the warnings provided with the lift, which warned workers to use the retractable lanyard and remain on the lift platform, were inadequate and confusing because the retractable lanyard permitted workers to leave the platform.
The parties settled for $1.2 million. In addition, the workers’ compensation carrier waived a lien of about $484,300.
Manufacturers and distributors of goods must be held responsible when their products endanger consumers. If you or a loved one have been injured as the result of negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878) for more information.