Trucker settles for $10.6M after losing both legs during unloading

July 22, 2019

Tyson Fisher

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More than five years after losing both his legs while on the job, a Pennsylvania trucker and the company he was delivering a load to have reached a settlement for more than $10 million.

On July 1, Robert Ryder of Mercer County, Pa., and Dura-Bond Coating of Allegheny County, Pa., reached a settlement of $10.6 million, according to Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas documents. The settlement comes after nearly four years of litigation.

In December 2013, Ryder arrived at Dura-Bond’s premises where he was directed by an employee where to park his tractor-trailer that was to be unloaded. Hauling for Yourga Trucking, Ryder was delivering eight 24-inch pipes.

Using a Pettibone Cary-Lift, a Dura-Bond employee successfully unloaded some of the pipes from the truck. During the process of unloading the rest, the Cary-Lift operator caused one or more of the pipes to become dislodged, according to the lawsuit. As a result, a piece of the pipe fell off the trailer bed, knocking Ryder to the ground and pinning his legs beneath a 5,000-pound pipe.

Ryder suffered serious injuries, including the loss of both legs. A lawsuit was filed against the company in August 2015.

Attorneys for Ryder argue that Dura-Bond and the employee are liable for the harm and losses the trucker has endured. More specifically, the lawsuit claims the company was negligent by:

  • Failing to inspect the area around the Cary-Lift.
  • Operating the Cary-Lift without ensuring no one was in the “zone of danger.”
  • Failing to use a spotter while unloading the pipes.
  • Failing to make sure that the pipes were properly secured before and during unloading.
  • Striking the pipes and/or trailer, causing the pipes to slide off the trailer.
  • Allowing the trucker to enter the unloading area while failing to warn him of the dangers.

The lawsuit alleges that the Cary-Lift operator should have known of the danger of operating the machinery with someone within the vicinity of the trailer. At the same time, Dura-Bond is accused of negligent hiring and training.

In its reply to the complaint, Dura-Bond argued that the incident was not the result of negligence “in any manner whatsoever.” The company demanded “strict proof to the contrary” at the time of a trial. Dura-Bond counter-argued that Ryder either contributed to any alleged negligence or exhibited similar alleged negligence, essentially nullifying the trucker’s claims.

“(Ryder) failed to exercise that degree of ordinary care required for his own safety under the circumstances and such failure on his part proximately caused his alleged injuries,” Dura-Bond argued in court documents.

Ryder’s attorneys had requested a trial by jury. However, the case was eventually settled on July 1 for the sum of $10.6 million, which includes loss of past and future earnings, past and future medical bills, and pain and suffering.

Tyson Fisher

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.