Worker sues Cat after fork lift crushes skull

Kelly Holleran Mar. 10, 2009, 5:45am


A Jefferson County man is suing a forklift manufacturer after one of the machines allegedly crushed his skull and left him blind in one eye.

Henry Lambert filed a suit Feb. 25 in Jefferson County District Court, claiming his head became caught between the forklift's boom and the top of the cab, causing him severe injuries.

The lawsuit names Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift and Adobe Equipment as defendants.

The incident occurred after midnight on Oct. 25, 2007, as Lambert was working as a forklift operator at Commercial Metals on College Street in Beaumont.

According to the original complaint, Lambert was using the Cat 2003 Model DP 30K lift truck in an attempt to pick up a large chain. After driving the forklift forward to place the forks under the chain, he leaned forward to make sure the chain was on the forks.

Lambert then attempted to slowly move the boom back to raise the chain on the forklift, according to the complaint.

But, seconds later, he found himself caught between the boom and the top of the cab.

"The boom very quickly moved back and crushed Plaintiff's skull between the boom and the top of the cab," the suit states.

As a result, in addition to his blindness, Lambert claims he developed C5 and C6 radiculopathy, sustained crippling injuries to his cervical range of motion and continues to suffer from headaches.

The plaintiff alleges Cat Lift Truck was negligent by failing to have an adequate operator presence detection system, by having a boom that moved too quickly, by failing to provide warnings that the boom and the top of the cab constitute a dangerous pinch point and in designing the fork lift so that the boom could move far enough back that it would create the dangerous pinch point.

Lambert is seeking an unspecified judgment, plus costs, pre- and post-judgment interest and other relief to which he may be entitled.

Steven C. Barkley of Beaumont is representing Lambert.

Case No. B183-381

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