A federal jury awarded a truck driver from Muskogee, OK, $2.2 million for injuries he suffered trying to unload freight at a Dollar General store in Troy, Mo.
The driver, Gregory Baird, was working for Hogan Transport in suburban St. Louis at the time of the incident, which occurred on Black Friday, 2007, the day after Thanksgiving and traditionally the kick-off of Christmas shopping.
The jury initially awarded Baird $4.6 million, and his wife, Michelle, an additional $250,000. However, the jury found that Baird was 52 percent at fault for the injury, and the award was reduced by that amount.
Baird’s attorney, John Anderson of St. Louis firm Anderson & Associates, explained that Missouri is a “comparative fault” state, meaning a victim can still be awarded damages even if they have been found to be partially at fault.
“Essentially what happened is my guy was a newlywed, 33 years old, just got a job with Hogan Transportation,” he said in a phone interview with Land Line. “He was worried if he didn’t unload the cargo, he’d lose his job.”
According to the complaint filed in federal court, Baird picked up his load at a distribution center in Fulton, MO. The complaint stated that the tops of the plastic cargo containers were covered with unspecified paper products, on top of which was also stacked at least one box of eight one-half gallon containers of liquid, weighing approximately 38 lbs.
Upon arrival at the store in Troy, Baird determined that there was not enough light to safely unload the trailer. The light fixture at the back of the store did not have a bulb in it. Baird then went inside the store to speak to a manager about a supplemental light source. He was told there was not one. While attempting to call his dispatcher, a Dollar General employee cut the security seal on the trailer, forcing Baird to unload its contents, per company policy.
As he attempted to unload the trailer in the dark, he grabbed the paper products to unload, and the box of liquid containers came crashing down on his face and head. The force of the blow left him unconscious and caused him to fall to the floor of the trailer “where he laid for an unknown amount of time until he regained consciousness.” Baird suffered head, brain, neck and back injuries as a result of the blow.
Anderson said his client is still suffering from the traumatic effects of the injury.