Trailer companies sued after toddler unlatches ramp

Kelly Holleran Feb. 10, 2009, 9:34am

A Bridge City woman claims her toddler son was injured after he was able to unlatch a metal ramp attached to a trailer which then fell on him.

In the lawsuit Candace Bourliea filed against five Beaumont companies, she claims the companies were at fault for her son Cameron's accident because there were no locks attached to metal pins that held the ramp in place.

Defendants named in the suit filed Feb. 5 in Jefferson County District Court are Ironhorse Trailers LLC, Mallard Transport LLC, Mallard Industries Inc., Mallard Industries Inc. doing business as Ironhorse Trailers and Kevin Jones doing business as Jones Trailer Sales.

The Ironhorse Trailers Web site states the company makes covered and uncovered trailers used to transport or tow motorcycles.

According to the original complaint, defendants sold a 2006 Ironhorse 76-inch-by-12-foot single-axle utility trailer to the grandparents of Cameron Lee Bourliea.

The trailer has a heavy metal gate/ramp that can fold up and down at the back of the trailer. When the gate/ramp is in its upright position, it was designed to be held in place by two metal pins that were to be inserted into tubes on each the back left and right side of the trailer, the suit states.

"There were no type of locks, cotter pins, safety chains or other safety pats or accessories attached to these metal pins or the gate/ramp," the suit states. "The pin and tube location on the gate/ramp is located low enough that a small child can reach such mechanism.

"On or about Oct. 13, 2008, Cameron Lee Bourliea, who was 23 months old at the time, was able to reach up and pull the pins that held the gate/ramp secured. When he did so, the gate/ramp fell, striking Cameron Lee Bourliea in the head causing him life threatening and life changing personal injuries."

Because of the incident, Candace Bourliea incurred medical costs, a loss of parental consortium and mental anguish, the suit claims.

Cameron Bourliea experienced physical pain and suffering, physical impairment, loss of earning capacity, loss of mental function, disfigurement and a fear of future disease or condition, according to the complaint.

Ironhorse Trailers and Mallard Transport failed to design a trailer with any type of locking equipment, causing the trailer to be defectively designed and unreasonably dangerous, the plaintiff alleges.

Jones Trailer Sales sold the 2006 Ironhorse single axle utility trailer to Bourliea's parents when the trailer was defective and unsafe for its intended purposes, according to the complaint.

Ironhorse and Mallard were negligent by failing to have a safety latch to prevent the gate from falling when unintended, by placing the latching mechanism close enough to the ground that children could unlatch it and by failing to properly warn Bourliea about the condition of the 2006 ironhorse single axle utility trailer and its equipment, according to the complaint.

Jones Trailer Sales were negligent by failing to place the trailer on the market with a warning that its ramp could be easily unlatched by a child, the suit states.

Candace Bourliea is seeking a judgment for damages within the jurisdictional limits of Jefferson County District Court, plus exemplary damages, pre-judgment interest at the maximum rate allowed by law, post-judgment interest at the legal rate and other relief to which she may be entitled.

Steve Parkhurst of Dies and Parkhurst in Orange will be representing her.

The case has been assigned to Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court.

Case No. A183-222

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