A 15-year veteran at the New York City Department of Sanitation filed a complaint arising from an accident where he sustained personal injuries. The complaint was filed against the manufacturer of the garbage truck, the City of New York/Department of Sanitation, and a co-worker.
The action arises from an accident which occurred on September 15, 2005, at 10 A.M., in which the sanitation worker, was injured while performing his garbage collection duties on Staten Island. On that day, the sanitation worker was standing behind a garbage truck (Model 25-CU-041) and attempting to maneuver a scrap piece of wood into the hopper when the hopper appeared to self-activate, and his hand got caught on the wood thereby pulling both his arm and body into the hopper mechanism crushing his right hand and arm. At the time of the accident, he was working with a co-worker, who was seated in the driver’s compartment when the truck accident occurred.
According to sources, the vehicle in question was ordered from the manufacturer after a competitive bidding process. As a general rule, manufacturers are not consulted or otherwise involved in the drafting of the detailed specifications for the truck. The detailed specifications are provided by the City and the manufacturer is not allowed to deviate from those specifications.
The manufacturer argued, among others, that the design of the hopper was reasonably safe for its intended use based upon a “tried and tested” design in use in New York City and various other public and private collection agencies throughout the United States and that there is no evidence of any manufacturing defect or a failure to inspect, as the design was extensively tested and approved by the City of New York.
In this case, the court found that the garbage collector never showed that there was defect in the truck as of its manufacture date. The court also noted that there was no design defect in the truck in that the truck, as designed, was reasonably safe for its intended use.
Manufacturers and sellers in the Bronx and Brooklyn may be held liable for injuries caused by ordinary negligence, like the failure to exercise reasonable care in avoiding the occurrence of injuries which can be expected of a product which would be dangerous if negligently manufactured or sold. Gross negligence, however, arises only when the conduct of the tortfeasor shows either a reckless disregard for the safety or rights of others or when the conduct “smacks” of intentional wrongdoing. In this case, no proof of either ordinary nor gross negligence is evident.
The court further noted that the sanitation worker, and the City, could no longer file a claim of breach of warranty against the manufacturer of the truck because the truck’s warranty already expired. The truck was manufactured in 2001 and it had a one-year warranty.
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