Woman failing to wear brace sues employer for back injury

David Yates Aug. 21, 2007, 11:16am

Wear a back brace and use a step ladder when stocking cases of soda mix, Bobbie Childree's employer instructed. But for various reasons Childree did not do as instructed and injured her back. Now she is suing the convenience store where she worked.

Through attorney Steven Barkley, Childree filed a personal injury lawsuit against Speedy Stop on Aug. 20 with the Jefferson County District Clerk.

Childree says she was told to stack 50-pound boxes at the convenience store, but claims no back belts were available and the step ladder "was in a totally different part of the store."

While performing the task, Childree alleges that she pulled her back and is suing Speedy Stop for failing to provide adequate help.

The damages that she seeks, "when measured in money, are substantial and significantly exceed the minimum jurisdictional limits of this court," the plaintiff's original petition states.

According to the petition, Childree was working at the Speedy Stop at College Street and Interstate 10. When she arrived at work on March 29, 2006, Childree says the district manager had left a list of duties to perform.

The jobs included cleaning the office and putting boxes on shelves, the suit said.

"As part of the job, she was required to lift a number of heavy boxes of soda mix used in the fountain at the store. The boxes weighed 50 pounds or more," the petition states. "Two of the boxes had to be placed in shelves above her head. The other boxes could be placed upon shelves that were chest-high. Plaintiff stacked the boxes. When she completed that portion of the job, she felt pain in her low back."

Childree laid down after completing the task, hoping the pain would reside, the suit said. But when she got up, she still had pain in her back and also felt shooting pains down her left side and leg.

Childree went to work the following day, and claims she was still in pain at that time.

She reported the injury to her supervisor and was instructed to fill out an incident report.

"However, no incident reports were available at the store," the suit said.

"Since the date of her accident, she has continued to attempt to obtain medical treatment from the store. The store has refused to provide her with adequate medical treatment. What medical treatment she has obtained has revealed that she has a herniated disc in her low back, which is most probably at the L4-L5 level. She will probably need to undergo surgery if and when she can afford to have surgery," the lawsuit states.

The suit does say that after being hired,Speedy Stop provided Childree with safety instruction, "stressing that back belts ... and step stools be used" when performing heavy lifting.

"However, no back belts were available at Speedy Stop No. 18," the suit said. "There was one step ladder but it was in a totally different part of the store. Plaintiff would show that Speedy Stop failed to provide a back belt, instruction in the use of the back belt, and adequate step ladders. Had such been available, Plaintiff, in all likelihood, would not have sustained her serious back injury."

In her suit, Childree also claims Speedy Stop was "negligent in failing to provide adequate help and in failing to provide plaintiff with a safe place to work.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for loss of past earnings and loss of future earning capacity, past and future medical expenses, past and future pain, physical impairment, suffering and mental anguish, and other damages.

According to the suit, Speedy Stop does not carry workers' compensation insurance, which "waives its common law defenses."

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th Judicial District, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. B179-840

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