Case details

Plaintiff claimed fall from back of truck caused back injuries




Mediated Settlement

Result type

Not present

back, contusion, lumbar, neck, spine, strain
On April 7, 2010, at approximately 1 a.m., plaintiff Michael Dembo, 49, a United Postal Service worker, was unloading boxes from a truck at a loading dock within Los Angeles International Airport. While he was straddling between the dock and the trailer of the truck, with a foot planted on each, the driver of the truck, Benedicto Benavides, drove away. As a result, Dembo fell and allegedly injured his lower back. Dembo sued Benavides; the owner of the truck and Benavides’ employer, J.F.R. Trucking Inc.; and the property owner. Dembo alleged that Benavides was negligent in the operation of the truck and that J.F.R. Trucking was vicariously liable for Benavides’ actions. He also alleged that the property owner failed to have proper warnings activated in the loading dock and that this failure constituted a dangerous condition. Dembo claimed that Benavides failed to make sure he was off of the truck before pulling away from the dock. He also claimed the property owner failed to have warning lights activated at the time of the accident and that these warning lights would have assisted Benavides as he backed up. Benavides and J.F.R. Trucking claimed that Dembo was negligent for failing to alert and/or warn Benavides that he was still on the truck as it pulled away. The property owner claimed Benavides had an obligation to chock and unchock the truck’s wheels before and after the truck was loaded. Thus, it claimed warning lights weren’t necessary and would not have prevented the subject accident., A coworker took Dembo from the scene of the accident and brought him to an emergency room. Dembo was subsequently diagnosed with a lower back strain. He then followed up three times at an urgent care facility and was referred to an orthopedist three months later. He also followed up with some physical therapy. Dembo claimed that he is permanently disabled as of Aug. 1, 2012, and can no longer work for UPS. Thus, he sought $13,000 in past medical costs, and an unspecified amount of damages for his future medical costs and lost earnings, as well as damages for his pain and suffering. Defense counsel contended that Dembo suffered only a minor injury from the subject accident, which resolved quickly. Counsel also contended that Dembo’s residual complaints and permanent disability stem from a subsequent back injury that he suffered in December 2010 and from a November 2011 diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. The defense’s human factors expert would have testified that Dembo could not have injured his back in the manner in which Dembo explained.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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