Steven Meier, a former security guard, was awarded $17 million from a jury in California’s Riverside Superior Court after a forklift injury resulted in the amputation of his leg. Meier was working as security guard at the time for Securitas Security Services at the PennySaver USA site in Mira Loma. In 2013, he was hit by a forklift that broke his right leg and pulled him for several feet. It was necessary to use a second forklift to remove the first one. After numerous surgeries, his leg was forced to be amputated in 2015, according to his lawyer, Ricardo Echeverria. Immediately following the case, Rob Meier, his brother, speaking on his behalf, explained that the two-week trial had ended positively.
Rob Meier discussed his brother’s situation by saying that he was obviously distraught upon learning that his leg would be removed. He says that Steven had put forth a solid effort in rehabilitation, but now must continue to move forward in life. Since the amputation, he required three additional procedures. He recently acquired a prosthetic leg that will be used temporarily, as he should have a permanent prosthetic in a couple of months.
The defendant was Travelers Insurance, which was the insurance provider for PennySaver USA at the time. The company, which did weekly coupon mailing, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2015. During the trial, the defense claimed that Meier was partially responsible for the injury. They explained the forklift vehicle had a functional backup alarm at the time and a flashing light to warn those in close proximity. Meier walked through an area where the vehicle was continuously be used to transfer pallets in the warehouse, when he was struck from behind. They alleged that he did not look around at his surroundings at the time of the accident. Travelers also stated that he should have been using a flashlight and wearing a safety vest at the time. The jury seemed to agree that Meier exhibited some negligence; however, on the jury form they completed, no negligence was attributed to him. Echeverria stated that Travelers has agreed that they will not appeal the decision.
Meier could have had the award reduced proportionally under California’s comparative negligence doctrine. For example, had the jury found that Meier’s amount of negligence in causing the injury was 20%, then the $17 million award would have been reduced accordingly. Comparative negligence is considered in all actions except when the injuries are the result of willful (intentional) actions. The state allows for recovery from the following classifications in personal injury claims:
- Past medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Hedonic damages, which are those associated with a loss of normalcy in life
- Deformity (disfigurement)
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Losses of income and wages