Petition For Rehearing in Lift Truck-Related Death Denied

BOSTON—The U.S. First District Court of Appeals in Boston has denied a petition by Crown Equipment for a rehearing in the lift truck-related death of operator Thomas Brown five years ago.

The setback for Crown Equipment comes on the heels of an earlier ruling, in which a Maine jury ordered the lift truck manufacturer to pay $4.2 million to the widow of a man who suffocated after being pinned when his vehicle backed into a wall.

The trial court found the Crown design safe, but cited the company’s post-sale failure to warn in making an award. According to the ruling, the 1989 Crown stand-up truck, model 30RCTT-5, was not defective when it was sold. However, the court found that Crown was at fault for not warning customers of potential horizontal intrusion hazards when operating near racking systems.

The earlier ruling said Crown Equipment warned that lack of protection behind operators could lead to “horizontal entry” where shelving could strike a lift truck operator, and in 1999 Crown provided kits to lift truck owners to improve safety in this situation.

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