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Family says bad excavator design caused construction death

Family says bad excavator design caused construction death

Date: October 21, 2012

The death of a construction worker in an accident with an excavator is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the man’s family against Illinois-based Caterpillar Inc. According to the wrongful death suit, which was filed in mid-October, Caterpillar’s negligent design of the construction machine was the reason the fatal accident occurred.

The victim was an employee of a Chicago contractor. On Dec. 16, 2010, he was working on a dam extension project in another state. He and two other workers were using an excavator to dislodge another piece of equipment that had become stuck in some mud.

One of the workers was in the excavator’s cockpit as the victim was attaching a strap to the stuck equipment. He stood up to tell the victim something and accidently bumped into the joystick that controlled the excavator’s boom and bucket. The machine struck the victim on the head and neck, fatally injuring him. He was 59.

An attorney representing the victim’s estate and children said that the excavator in the accident was a Caterpillar machine. He said that Caterpillar’s design for the machine was “negligent and reckless,” which was the primary cause of the fatal incident. He said that he hoped the family’s wrongful death lawsuit would compel Caterpillar to improve its designs to reduce the chances of inadvertent jostling causing such a severe accident.

An article about the lawsuit does not mention what damages the family is seeking. Besides Caterpillar, two other machinery companies and the operator of the dam are also named in the suit.

Source: York Daily Record, “Family sues Caterpillar, PPL Holtwood for wrongful death,” Rick Lee, Oct. 18, 2012

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