Key v. Diamond International – $10 Million Missouri Negligence Verdict Affirmed

Key v. Diamond International – $10 Million Missouri Negligence Verdict Affirmed

A former trucking company worker who was seriously and permanently injured as a result of a work-related injury succeeded in securing a $10 million verdict for compensation against a third party – a ruling that was recently affirmed by the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, in Key v. Diamond International.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The appellate court ruled trial court did not err in its comparative fault instructions or in refusing to grant a new trial or grant a motion for judgment notwithstanding verdict.

Normally, work-related injuries are only compensable through workers’ compensation, per the exclusive remedy provision. However, this pertains only to one’s direct employer (and anyone acting on behalf of that employer, such as co-workers, contractors, etc.). Third parties may still be held liable for negligence.

That was the assertion here.

According to court records, the incident in question occurred in December 2007. Worker was employed by a truck transport company and, as part of his work, delivered heavy duty commercial trucks to dealerships across the country. The trucks are transported in “piggyback” fashion, meaning two or three trailing trucks are attached to a lead truck, with only their wheels on the ground. Trucks were stacked by plaintiff’s employer.

On the day in question, plaintiff was delivering three trucks from Texas to defendant’s dealership in St. Joseph. When plaintiff arrived on site, he pulled the trucks into the location provided by defendant for undecking. Defendant provided a hoist for the undecking process.

In the course of this process, the top truck rolled back onto the worker and trapped him between the two trucks. Plaintiff suffered numerous and extensive injuries, including:

    • Bilateral chest trauma;
    • Flail chest (a life-threatening condition that occurs when part of the rib cage breaks under extreme stress);
    • Multiple rib fractures;
    • Numerous internal injuries and bleeding;
    • Kidney damage and acute kidney failure;
    • Artery damage;
    • Permanent bowel damage;
    • Shattered pelvis;
    • Damaged colon.

Our St. Louis injury lawyers note the incident nearly killed him, and left him permanently impotent, suffering from impaired bowel function, permanent dependence on a cane, deep vein thrombosis, weak muscles, bladder issues and back pain. He will require care and treatment the rest of his life.Plaintiff sued defendant on grounds it negligently supplied dangerous instrumentality for a business purpose by not providing him with the right gear to stabilize the trucks during the undecking process.

Ultimately, jurors assigned 65 percent of fault to plaintiff, but 35 percent of fault to defendant. Per Missouri’s pure comparative fault model, this resulted in a 65 percent reduction of his $10 million in damages (meaning he was to receive $3.5 million.)

Defendant appealed, arguing the comparative fault instruction given jurors was improper and misstated the applicable burden of proof.

Appellate court found otherwise, but noted even if the instruction had been improper, defense would have had a duty to object to that instruction before it was submitted to jurors in order to preserve that argument on appeal. However, defense did not do so, and thus, the verdict was affirmed.

Additional Resources:
Key v. Diamond International, Jan. 27, 2015, Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District

More Blog Entries:
Peters v. Terrio – Exclusive Remedy of Missouri Workers’ Compensation Law, Oct. 30, 2014, St. Louis Injury Lawyer Blog

The following two tabs change content below.

Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC

Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC is a litigation law firm that represents individuals and families in serious personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout Missouri. We help people who have been injured in all types of accidents—including car or truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and much more. Whether your injury is something that can cause long-term issues like a brain injury or spinal cord injury, or it is something you’ll likely make a full recovery from, we are here to help.

Latest posts by Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC (see all)