Son files wrongful death suit against Caterpillar for father's death

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Aug. 15, 2007, 10:51am

Caterpillar Skid Steer

Marshall – While working with his son clearing land, Thomas Mitchell was killed when a Caterpillar machine blade suddenly dropped.

Thomas' mother and son, Frances Mitchell and David Mitchell, claim the Caterpillar Skid Steer's hydraulic line was improperly assembled causing the accident.

Thomas' family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Caterpillar, Inc. with the Marshall, Texas Eastern District Court on August 6.

According to the plaintiffs' original petition, Thomas and David Mitchell were using a relatively new (about 300 hours) Caterpillar Skid Steer to clear family land. When the equipment became jerky, David opened the engine compartment to determine the problem.

The plaintiff found hydraulic fluid leaking from a hydraulic hose connection. When David attempted to tighten the connection, hydraulic fluid forcefully sprayed out covering David. The suit goes on to say that this sudden forceful escape of hydraulic fluid caused the Caterpillar blade to drop, catching and killing Thomas Mitchell.

Continuing, the complaint states David was unable to pull the blade off his father because of the lack of hydraulic fluid. It was several hours before other equipment successfully removed the blade from Thomas.

The lawsuit faults Caterpillar with negligence, manufacturing defect and design defect. Plaintiffs seek damages for Thomas' physical pain and mental anguish, David's and Frances' mental anguish, pecuniary loss and loss of companionship.

A jury trial has been requested by plaintiffs' attorney Blake Bailey from the Bailey law firm in Tyler, Texas. Judge John Ward will preside.

Case No.: 2:07cv00332

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