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Litchfield Cavo Obtains Summary in Will County, Illinois Case

Chicago Partner Scott D. Stephenson recently obtained summary judgment on behalf of Caterpillar Inc., in a case pending in Will County, Illinois. Plaintiff, a 47-year-old employee of a Caterpillar logistics contractor, was injured when she lost control of the order picker lift she was operating and crashed the vehicle into steel shelving units. Plaintiff claimed the order picker lift was dangerous for its intended use, and could not be properly steered in a controlled and safe manner.

According to plaintiff, water which had accumulated on the floor of the facility in a battery change area where she took the lift just prior to the accident got on the rear steer tire of the lift and caused a loss of steering control. Plaintiff alleged Caterpillar breached its duty of reasonable care to maintain its premises in a reasonably safe condition and in the selection of the order picker lift truck it supplied for use by its contractors in the performance of their duties at the facility.

Plaintiff suffered a left grade 2 open mid-shaft comminuted tibia/fibula fracture and underwent surgery for placement of an intramedullary rod. Plaintiff’s fracture failed to heal and it was determined she had an atrophic non-union of her fracture for which she underwent bone graft surgery with a synthetic bone graft. Due to complications with the synthetic bone graft, she subsequently underwent a left iliac crest bone graft surgery. Despite the surgical procedures, plaintiff continued to suffer unremitting pain and a permanent disability with respect to her left leg, requiring use of a cane to ambulate. Plaintiff’s medical bills totaled close to $300,000.00 and she was no longer able to work.

Caterpillar filed a Motion for Summary Judgment contending that Plaintiff failed to establish that 1) Caterpillar knew or should have known of the presence of water on the floor of the battery change area, which was controlled and operated by one of its other contractors at the facility; and 2) the order picker lift supplied by Caterpillar was unreasonably dangerous. The Court agreed with the arguments raised by Caterpillar and granted summary judgment.