Ronald Smith worked as a forklift operator at a Jacksonville warehouse until he suffered a debilitating injury on April 12, 2013. Smith was moving a pallet with a forklift, but the pallet didn’t sit correctly so he tried to see what was wrong with the pallet. That’s when it came crashing down on him and tore the tendons away from his bicep. It was excruciatingly painful and the injury so severe he was forced to endure three different surgeries just to be able to use his hand and arm again. Despite the numerous surgeries, his injuries are permanent, and he won’t be able to raise or straighten his arm or hand ever again.
Smith is a smart forklift driver and takes pride in his safety record but what happened that terrible day was not his fault. The warehouse had just gotten a new rack system to store items on pallets from a company in the United Kingdom. The company designed and manufactured the new rack system and marketed it as being a more efficient way to store items on pallets. But that company failed to make sure its salespeople or installers provided appropriate training for the forklift operators at the warehouse and did nothing to guarantee the rack system was installed in a safe manner.
Based upon the numerous amounts of racks that were installed throughout the warehouse, there was no way any of the forklift operators could ever move the pallets safely. Without training they had just watched how the installation company moved the pallets during the construction of the rack system and followed that same method when they were doing their job once the installation was complete. Unknown to Smith or any of the forklift operators this was extremely dangerous, because the pallets would never be able to sit safely in the rack system. Smith and the other forklift operators were doomed.
This was a tough case to litigate because of several difficult legal issues involved. One big problem was that the manufacturer and designer of the rack system was in the United Kingdom. Another obstacle was that the manufacturer and designer had gone out of business and declared bankruptcy. Despite these challenges, it did not deter attorney Matthew Posgay, shareholder with Coker Law or the firm’s legal team from continuing the fight.
During the firm’s investigation into the companies involved it was discovered there was a separate company from Tennessee that had installed the rack system. They were added to the lawsuit and depositions of the owner and employees confirmed what Posgay suspected from the beginning – no one installed the rack system correctly and no one ever provided any training to the forklift operators so they could do their job in a safe manner.
“Even though we were able to navigate our way through this case, the global pandemic further delayed a trial,” said Posgay. “Civil trials were on hold for more than a year, but our never gave up and continued to allow us to fight for him.”
Posgay and the experienced legal team persevered a resolution for their clients and rejected several minimal settlement offers. The team’s persistence finally paid off and the case was resolved for the full policy limits of the installation company of $1,000,000.00 (million) dollars.
“We were able to take on a long, hard and expensive battle, which is something many firms do not have the ability to do,” explained Posgay. “International companies, bankruptcy and lack of liability insurance did not stop our fight for justice, and we are appreciative of the trust Mr. Smith put in us to win his case.”
Case Title: Ronald Smith v R and R Engineering, et. Al.
Attorneys/staff involved in case: Shareholder Matthew Posgay, Paralegal Denora Buben
Date of Settlement: May 2021
Amount of Settlement: $1,000,000.00