Trucking co. being sued by Phila. water reservoir guard seeks to transfer matter to federal court

By Jon Campisi | Apr 4, 2013

Lawyers representing a West Virginia commercial trucking company being sued by a City

of Philadelphia worker over injuries he allegedly sustained as a result of coming into contact with a haul of lime have petitioned a federal judge to hear the case.

Attorneys for Hinkle Trucking Inc. contend that a lawsuit initiated by Philadelphia resident Eddie Hurtt belongs at the U.S. District Court because diversity of citizenship exists between the parties.

Hurtt, who worked as a guard for the city at its Queen Lane Water Treatment Plant, filed suit against Hinkle in early March in state court over claims that he developed chemical keratitis, or an inflammation of the cornea, as a result of having had lime blown in his face on March 25, 2011, when the defendant was delivering the substance to the plant, which is located in the city’s East Falls neighborhood.

The lawsuit, originally filed in Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court, says that lime has an alkaline pH value and presents a risk of injury to those who come into contact with the compound.

Lime is also identified as a caustic substance that can cause severe eye damage, the complaint states.

Hurtt’s alleged injury occurred when Hinkle’s employees were offloading the lime from their truck, at which time a “substantial amount” of the substance escaped from the vehicle and became airborne.

As a result of his coming into contact with the lime, the plaintiff claims he has developed chronic corneal inflammation, which manifests itself as redness and irritation of the eyes.

This condition will cause Hurtt to have permanent sensitivity to light, the suit says.

The complaint also alleges that this debilitation, coupled with Hurtt’s nearsightedness, caused the City of Philadelphia’s medical director to declare the plaintiff permanently and partially disabled, which meant Hurtt would have to be placed on restricted work duty.

As a result of the workplace injury, the suit says, Hurtt will require eye drops and medications for the remainder of his life, and he will continue to experience physical and mental pain and suffering and financial hardship.

The lawsuit accuses the trucking company of various acts of negligence, including a failure to prevent exposure to reservoir employees during the lime delivery, failing to use proper and safe techniques to offload the substance from the truck and into the city’s storage facility, and failing to have the appropriate hoses or other equipment that would allow the offloading of the lime without creating a hazard to individuals in the vicinity of the truck.

The plaintiff is being represented by Raynes McCarty lawyers Gerald A. McHugh, Jr. and Timothy R. Lawn.

Hinkle, which is being represented by Media, Pa. attorney Donna M. DiPietro, of the Nicolson Law Group, filed its removal notice on April 1 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, asserting that the matter would be more appropriately handled at the federal courthouse because the parties are citizens of different states and also because the amount in controversy is expected to exceed the jurisdictional limit in state court.


The state court ID number is 130300312.

The federal case number is 2:13-cv-01680-NS. 

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