Last month, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a case raising an important issue that frequently comes up in Indiana personal injury cases. The case required the court to assess whether a company that provided maintenance for machinery could be held responsible for an accident that may have been able to be prevented if certain safety features had been installed on the machinery. Ultimately, the court concluded that the maintenance company could not be held liable, and dismissed the plaintiff’s case.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff worked as a truck driver. One day, the plaintiff was waiting at his employer’s warehouse for another employee to load his empty tractor-trailer with goods. As the plaintiff was waiting for the trailer to be loaded, the employee who was operating the forklift backed up over the plaintiff’s foot. The forklift did not have a back-up alarm installed.
Evidently, the plaintiff’s employer had a contract with the defendant company to provide maintenance for the forklift. That agreement called for the defendant company to provide preventative maintenance on the forklift every 90 days. Apparently, the forklift had been serviced just a few months prior to the accident by one of the defendant’s employees, and the installation of a back-up alarm was not recommended. After the accident, the defendant installed a back-up alarm on the forklift.