Forklift driver sues after chain hook fails and mauls face

Michelle Keahey Oct. 6, 2012, 3:13am


NEW ORLEANS - A forklift driver who attempted to pull his forklift out of a muddy spot with a chain hook has filed a lawsuit seeking more than $6 million claiming he suffered severe brain damage and other injuries when the chain hook failed and tore off parts of his face.

Justin Paul Alexie, individually and on behalf of his minor child, filed suit against Apex Tool Group, Danaher Corp., Cooper Tools and f/k/a Cooper Tools Inc. and Cooper US Inc. and d/b/a Cooper Industries on Sept. 5 in federal court in New Orleans.

The alleged incident occurred on Sept. 6, 2011 as Justin Alexie was working for Dufrene Building Materials. Alexie was on the forklift and a co-worker was driving the truck being used to pull the forklift.

As the forklift was being pulled forward, the chain hook failed and the chain whipped toward the Alexie. Alexie suffered severe injuries, including having his face "essentially torn off and his features horribly mangled."

The defendants are accused of violating the Louisiana Products Liability Act in that the chain hook was unreasonably dangerous and defective in design because the design used by the manufacturer was prone to failure in reasonably foreseeable use.

"At the time that the chain hook was manufactured, feasible alternative designs existed which would have decreased or eliminated the risk of failure, but those designs were not utilized by Defendants," the lawsuit states.

The defendants are also accused of breach of warranty and failing to warn.

The plaintiff is seeking more than $6 million damages for medical expenses, physical, emotional and mental pain and suffering, loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity, mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of the enjoyment of life, permanent disability, economic losses, disfigurement, scarring, loss of parental consortium, loss of services, support, enjoyment, companionship, guidance, interest, attorney's fees, and court costs.

Alexie is represented by Gary J. Gambel and Michael D. Letourneau of Murphy, Rogers, Sloss & Gambel in New Orleans. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:12-cv-02212

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