New England Verdicts
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Lack of control guard in truck was safety violation: plaintiffs
Bristol County, Superior Court
other-loss of consortium; wrist-fracture, wrist; surgeries/treatment-open reduction; surgeries/treatment-internal fixation
Worker/Workplace Negligence - OSHA, Negligent Repair, Negligent Maintenance
Maxwell Parsons and Stacey Parsons v. Pathfinder Tree Service, LLC and Consider It Dunn, Inc., No. 1273CV01408
October 6, 2016
Stacey Parsons (Female, 41 Years),
Maxwell Parsons (Male, 44 Years)
Zachary M. Ballin; Ballin & Associates; Foxborough, MA, for Stacey Parsons, Maxwell Parsons
Consider It Dunn Inc.,
Pathfinder Tree Service LLC
Patrick J. Markey; Markety & Barrett, P.C.; Springfield, MA, for Consider It Dunn Inc. ■ Scott P. Murphy; Scott Murphy, Attorney at Law; Norwood, MA, for Pathfinder Tree Service LLC
On Sept. 6, 2011, plaintiff Maxwell Parsons, 44, a tree trimmer, began his first day of work for Pathfinder Tree Service, LLC. Parsons was to assist in taking down trees and was instructed to work from the bucket of a "bucket truck." The truck that Pathfinder was using had been loaned to Pathfinder by Consider It Dunn, Inc. and was missing the control guard in the bucket. Parsons climbed into the bucket and proceeded with taking down the tree. A branch dislodged from the tree and came down into the bucket. As Parsons worked to dislodge the branch, the control moved the bucket forward and the bucket struck the tree. Parsons claimed a fractured wrist as a result of the incident. Parsons filed suit against Pathfinder and Consider It Dunn. Since Parsons was an employee of Pathfinder, he received workers' compensation benefits and his claim against Pathfinder was dismissed. Parsons alleged the truck was defective, as it did not have a control guard, which was an OSHA safety violation. He argued that Consider it Dunn knew or should have known the guard was missing and knew or should have known that using the truck without a guard was dangerous. Consider It Dunn contended that, at the time the truck was purchased, it was unaware that the control guard was missing, nor did it know what a control guard was. Further, Consider It Dunn argued that Pathfinder Tree Service did not pay for use of the truck and Consider It Dunn had loaned the truck to Pathfinder as a favor. Although Parsons' claim against Pathfinder was dismissed, Pathfinder remained in the case as a third-party defendant. Pathfinder had argued that a missing control guard was not important and that Parsons, an experienced tree trimmer, was comparatively negligent.
Parsons sustained a fractured wrist, which required open reduction with internal fixation. He claimed permanent residuals and eventually had to find other work. His wife sought damages for loss of consortium. The defense disputed the nature and extent of the injury claim.
The jury awarded $375,000 to Maxwell Parsons, but determined that he was 33-percent comparatively negligent, resulting in a reduction of the award to $251,250. The total judgment to Maxwell Parsons, including interest and costs, was $368,052.64. Stacey Parsons was awarded $10,000 for loss of consortium. The total judgment for Stacey Parsons, including interest and costs, was $14,622.45.
Renee P. Dupuis
There was no appeal and this case is closed.
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs' counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to a request for comment.