Employee sues Giant over forklift accident

January 07, 1994|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

A Harford County man has filed a civil suit against Giant Foods Inc. and one of its employees, seeking $2.2 million for injuries he says he received when struck by a forklift in the company's Jessup warehouse.

Donald Gregory of Forest Hill claims that the forklift was so overloaded that its operator could not see what was in his path in the Dec. 26, 1990, incident.

"There's no way possible he could have seen Mr. Gregory," said Philip Tirabassi, a Bel Air attorney representing the plaintiff.

Mr. Gregory and his wife, Janet Gregory, are seeking damages from Giant and Darvin Hebron, a Jessup man who was operating the forklift.

The lawsuit was filed in Howard Circuit Court on Dec. 16, 10 days before the three-year statute of limitations to file a civil suit would have expired.

Mr. Tirabassi said the Gregorys did not approach him about handling the case until last October.

Barry Scher, a spokesman for Giant, declined to comment, saying company officials do not comment on pending litigation. Mr. Hebron, who works for Giant, could not be reached.

The Gregorys, of the 100 block of Gwen Drive, assert that Mr. Hebron violated state and federal Occupational Safety and Hazard Act guidelines to cause the incident.

The guidelines require forklift operators "to look in the direction of, and keep a clear view of the path of travel." Mr. Tirabassi said he does not believe the incident was investigated by the state Occupational Safety and Health Board.

Mr. Gregory, a 57-year-old truck driver, was at the Giant warehouse in the 7800 block of Assateague Drive to make a delivery while Mr. Hebron was operating the forklift, the suit says.

Mr. Hebron was carrying a full load of pallets that obstructed his vision, the suit says. The suit contends that Mr. Hebron should have traveled in reverse with the load trailing behind the forklift so he could see where he was traveling.

The employee also failed to sound his horn or flash his lights to warn people who may have been in the pathways of the warehouse, as required by occupational safety codes, according the lawsuit.

Mr. Gregory did not see the forklift approaching him, Mr. Tirabassi said.

The suit claims Mr. Hebron was negligent for striking Mr. Gregory, who suffered a fractured leg and ankle, a head injury and damage to his nervous system.

The plaintiffs also contend in the complaint that the incident damaged Mr. Gregory's marriage because it prompted a loss of affection, companionship and sexual relations.

Giant, meanwhile, is responsible for Mr. Gregory's injuries because the company employed Mr. Hebron, the suit contends.

The Gregorys have requested a jury trial for the lawsuit. The case has been assigned to Judge Raymond Kane Jr., but no proceedings have been scheduled.

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