A 52-year-old garbage collector had worked for his employer for more than 20 years. He was operating his truck in 2007 when the right front hub of the truck fractured. This caused the front wheel to fall off while he was driving the truck.
As a result of the defective equipment, the truck driver was involved in a truck accident on the job. The truck driver suffered a compression injury to his spine. He had to undergo several surgeries on his back, but he remains in pain and unable to work.
He brought a car accident lawsuit against the hub manufacturer, the cab and chassis manufacturer and the truck modifier, claiming that these companies knew as early as 2004 that the hubs were not fit to carry the weight they were rated for, but failed to warn consumers. He argued that this failure was negligent considering that there were 15,000 to 25,000 defective hubs on registered trucks throughout the United States. Since the manufacturers knew of the risks, they had the duty to warn the owners and operators of the trucks.
In their defense, the defendants argued that the garbage company was to blame for overloading the truck. According to the defense, cracks in the hub were present before the wheel fell off which should have been detected by the garbage company prior to the truck accident.
A federal jury in California determined that the hub manufacturer was the majority at fault, while the cab and chassis manufacturer was 30 percent to blame, and the truck modifier was one percent at fault. Interestingly, the garbage company was not included as a defendant in this case, but was found to be six percent at fault.
The garbage collector was awarded almost $10 million for past and future medical expenses, lost earning capacity, and pain and suffering. His wife was awarded $1.5 million for loss of consortium.