Jon Campisi Jan. 30, 2014, 8:00am


A truck driver from suburban Philadelphia is suing Florida-based Ryder

Fleet Products Inc. and others over an incident in which je claims he suffered a crushed hand from a vehicle liftgate that was made by Ryder.

David and Nicole Orzechowski, a husband and wife from Bucks County, filed a federal civil action on Jan. 28 at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia against Ryder, New York-based Mike’s Heavy Duty Towing Inc. and California-based Palfinger North America Group over a Feb. 4, 2012, incident that occurred at about 5:30 in the morning near 71st and Austin Streets in New York City.

At that time, David Orzechowski, who was employed as a truck driver, realized his liftgate had broken down.

Mike’s Towing was dispatched to aid the plaintiff in fixing the malfunctioning product, the record shows.

While the Mike’s Towing mechanic was at the scene, the lawsuit states, he asked the plaintiff to help him when the liftgate came down and nearly crushed him.

At that point, Orzechowski attempted to grab the closing gate to prevent it from crushing the worker, but while doing so his left hand and right shoulder were struck by the liftgate, which is a mechanized device that is attached to the back of some commercial box trucks to assist with the lifting of items.

The plaintiff claims his hand was severely crushed in the process.

The lawsuit says that Orzechowski ended up sustaining a host of physical injuries, including, but not limited to, a crushed index finger with resultant amputation, multiple contusions, sprains and strains, chronic swelling, significant nerve damage, and emotional and psychological trauma.

Orzechowski says he has had to undergo emergency and follow-up hospitalization for treatment for his injuries, and that he will require periodic hospitalization for an indefinite time in the future.

He also claims he experienced great pain and suffering, disfigurement, limitations on his bodily movements and functions, and limitation of the ability to pursue normal occupational and social activities.

The complaint says that the plaintiff had to undergo surgery, continues to attend physical therapy sessions, both at outpatient facilities and at home, and that he has experienced financial setbacks and income losses as a result of his ordeal.

The lawsuit accuses Ryder of strict liability for designing, manufacturing and distributing a defective product.

The liftgate, the suit states, was defective in that it contained an improper sized hose that attaches to the product and its component, it failed to contain a safety guard so as to prevent the incident, it failed to contain adequate warnings, it failed to comply with various codes and standards, and that it failed to have an adequate hydraulic system.

“The defective condition of the Liftgate was a substantial factor in causing Plaintiffs’ injuries and losses,” the lawsuit reads. “As a result of the tortuous activity hereinabove described Defendant, Ryder, is strictly liable to Plaintiff for his injuries.”

The complaint also contains additional counts of breach of warranty, negligence, and loss of consortium.

The plaintiffs are being represented by Jenkintown, Pa. lawyer Marc A. Weinberg, of the firm Saffren & Weinberg.

 

The federal case number is 2:14-cv-00617-PD.

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