Crowell v. R&L Construction; Gradall Co.
and Moorefield Construction
Emilie H. Elias
Plaintiff - Michael H. Whitehill
Defendants - R&L Construction, Terrance J. Shannon (Luna Brownwood
& Rice, Orange)
FACTS: Plaintiff was a 62 year old plumber working for AL & M Plumbing at a construction site in Orange County. On December 17, 1991 Plaintiff was talking to a forklift driver employed by R&L Construction on the job site. Plaintiff began to walk away from the forklift and for some unknown reason turned around and ran back in an attempt to touch the forklift driver on the shoulder. In the meantime the forklift driver began to drive forward and after traveling approximately twenty yards began to turn right. Since the forklift was a rear wheel vehicle the rear vehicle swung out to the left and ran over Plaintiff. Plaintiff died in the hospital several hours later.
INJURIES: Wrongful Death - Plaintiff was survived by his wife of eleven years.
LOSS OF WAGES: Approximately $150,000.00
CONTENTIONS: Plaintiff contended that the forklift driver employed by R&L Construction was negligent for not clearing the path of the rear wheel when turning right. Plaintiff contended the forklift was defective since it should have been equipped with side view mirrors which would have allowed the driver to have seen Plaintiff. Finally, Plaintiff contended that Defendant Moorefield Construction was liable for the negligence of R&L Construction under the peculiar risk doctrine.
Defendants contended that Plaintiff was the sole contributing cause of the accident. Defendants contended the forklift driver acted reasonably in looking to clear the area over which the forklift drove before turning right but was unable to see Plaintiff because he ran into the vehicle's path after the area had been visually cleared. Defendant Gradall contended side view mirrors were superfluous.
SETTLEMENT DISCUSSIONS: Plaintiff initially demanded $750,000.00 from all Defendants. The case eventually settled for $431,000.00. Defendant R&L Construction paid $360,000.00, Gradall Company paid $41,000.00 and Moorefield Construction paid $25,000.00.