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Industrial lift blamed in worker death

Industrial lifts, or "cherry pickers" as they are frequently called, are a common sight in Berks County. These ubiquitous devices, consisting of two hinged arms and a bucket to hold the worker, are used for many different jobs that require workers to perform tasks far over their heads. A common use for industrial lifts is trimming and felling trees. A wrongful death lawsuit recently filed in Philadelphia is going to hinge on whether a defect in an industrial lift was responsible for killing one of the workers who was using the device.

According to the plaintiff (the estate of the dead worker), three workers were using a 1994 Altec LR III aerial lift to remove a large tree. One of the workers felt the lift shake uncharacteristically. When he checked the lift and nearby area, he found that the lift arms had collapsed, ejecting the operator in the bucket. The lift arms allegedly struck another worker who had been collecting debris. The violent impact of the lift arms killed the worker, who died on the site prior to the arrival of emergency personnel.

The decedent's estate is alleging that one or more of the defendants was negligent in the maintenance of the lift and that the manufacturer was negligent or strictly liable for defects in the manufacture of lift. The complaint names the manufacturer of the lift, two parent companies, and the company that owns and rented the lift to the tree removal company. The defendants have denied all liability.

As is common with such cases, the plaintiffs have named as defendants any party which may be liable for the accident. The outcome of the case will not be known for several months as the parties gather evidence and conduct discovery. Preparation of such a case is often lengthy and complex. Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in a similar can obtain a helpful evaluation of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages by contacting one of the lawyers at Leisawitz Heller in Reading.

Source: Penn Record, "Lift manufacturer denies claims its product led to man's death in tree removal accident," Nicholas Malfitano, March 14, 2017

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