A warehouse worker injured in a forklift accident cannot sue the company that owns the warehouse, which regularly allowed workers to work with unsafe routines such as standing on a moving forklift, a New Jersey court of appeal ruled Friday.
Carlton Hocutt appealed a summary judgment granted to Minda Supply Co., which owns the warehouse where he was injured, claiming that the company was negligent in leading him to ride as a passenger on a forklift in violation of federal safety regulations, according to documents in Carlton Hocutt III v Minda Supply Company, et. al., filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, in Jersey City, New Jersey.
"Forklifts are used in the warehouse to move delivery pallets" for the dry cleaning industry, according to documents. “It was common in the warehouse for a worker to ride the forklift, standing on either the front or back of the forklift while it was moving. This practice violates federal workplace safety regulations.
However, Minda Supply had never been quoted by the National Board of Occupational Safety and Health before the three quotations it collected after Mr. Hocutt's Forklift Accident, Causing Serious Injury to His Legs
Both the trial and the Court of Appeal used case law to establish that while the practice leading to the accident was against regulations, it was "not sufficient to establish intentional error" which could lead to to a neglect.
By affirming the summary judgment, the Court of Appeal dismissed Hocutt's allegation of wrongdoing, stating that “in view of the absence of past accidents or employee complaints, and in particular in the absence of fraud, concealment or deception, we do not believe Minda's misunderstanding was clearly beyond anything the legislature intended (New Jersey Workers' Compensation Act) to immunize. "