Search for forklift, last seen in Canada, could delay Philly lawsuit over alleged workplace injury

By Nicholas Malfitano | Apr 29, 2015

PHILADELPHIA – Issues of a missing forklift and the scheduling availability of future depositions may require a 90-day extension of the discovery period in a case of alleged negligence filed by a former forklift operator.

Samuel Siegel of Pennsburg initiated the lawsuit against Raymond Corporation of Greene, N.Y., Penske Corporation, Penske Leasing and Penske Logistics of Reading, Penn., Knoll, Inc. of East Greeneville and Arbor Material Handling, Inc. of Willow Grove in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas in May 2013, two years after he alleges he suffered severe and permanent injuries in a forklift accident.

In 2011, Knoll contracted with Penske to consolidate outbound shipping operations for its four North American plants into one network, necessitating a warehouse conversion project at the Knoll facility in East Greeneville.

According to the lawsuit, Siegel was working on that project through Randstad Staffing as a forklift operator. The forklift Siegel was operating in the course of his work duties was manufactured by one of the defendants, Raymond Corporation.

On May 8, 2011, Siegel claims as he was using the forklift, the gear mechanism malfunctioned and threw the forklift into reverse. Attempts by the plaintiff to shift gears into both forward and neutral gears allegedly did not succeed in stopping the forklift, and neither did pulling the forklift’s “deadman’s switch” – a fail-safe device used to completely deactivate a forklift in the event of an emergency.

As a result, the lawsuit alleges Siegel collided with the bottom base of a steel rack, which he claims, along with the forklift, kept him crushed and pinned at the scene of the accident for 20 minutes.

Siegel claims he suffered permanent injuries in the accident, including “a crushed chest and face, flail chest, facial fractures, avulsed teeth, clavicle, nasal and bilateral rib fractures, traumatic brain injury, and bilateral pulmonary and cardiac contusions.”

The injuries left Siegel disabled, the suit says, and required surgery for his facial and clavicle fractures along with the installation of a dental implant. Siegel continues to incur expenses for his continuing medical care, according to the litigation.

Siegel is alleging negligence, strict liability and a breach of warranty on the part of Raymond Corporation for using and not inspecting a defective forklift, negligence on the part of Penske Corporation and its related departments and negligence on the part of Knoll, Inc. all for contributing to an unsafe work environment, and negligence against Arbor Material Handling, Inc. for allegedly selling a defective forklift.

Arbor Material Handling, Inc. is the exclusive dealer for Raymond Corporation-brand forklifts in the Philadelphia, Delaware and Southern New Jersey region, according to its website.

In November, a 120-day extension of the discovery period was granted, and a motion heard this week sought to continue that period for an additional 90 days.

This was due to the forklift allegedly used in the May 2011 accident not being able to be located. Records indicate the device was sold since the accident and its last known location was Toronto.

Further, counsel for the plaintiff seeks to depose remaining representatives for the corporate defendants named in the lawsuit, some of whom are not available to provide those depositions until May.

The plaintiff is seeking in excess of $50,000 in compensatory damages, exclusive of delay damages, plus interest and costs of suit.

The plaintiff is represented by Brian D. Kent, Esq., Paul Bucci II, Esq. and Christopher D. Spina, Esq. of Laffey, Bucci & Kent, LLP of Philadelphia.

The defendants are represented by William J. Ricci and Francis J. Grey, Jr. of Ricci Tyrrell Johnson & Grey, and Robert P. Corbin, Ashley Devita and Gary Gremminger, of German, Gallagher & Murtaugh, all of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 130500205


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