Injury While Trying to Pick Up a Fallen 3000 Pound Roll of Paper Was a Foreseeable Consequence of an Alleged Equipment Defect Which Caused the Roll to Fall
The Fourth Department determined the summary judgment motion of the defendants—manufacturers and modifiers of a pallet truck—was properly denied. The complaint alleged the pallet truck and the roll cradle with which the pallet truck was modified were defective, causing a 3000 pound roll of paper to fall off the truck. Plaintiff was severely injured while trying to lift the fallen roll. The defendants’ arguments that any defects in the pallet truck and roll cradle were not the proximate cause of the injury, and the attempt to pick up the fallen roll was the superseding cause of the injuries, were rejected. The court determined the cause of the injury was within the class of foreseeable hazards associated with a fallen roll and the risk of the intervening act (lifting the fallen roll) was the same risk that renders the actor negligent:
“As a general rule, the question of proximate cause is to be decided by the finder of fact, aided by appropriate instructions” … . Where the cause of an accident is “within the class of foreseeable hazards that [a] duty exists to prevent, the [defendant] may be held liable, even though the harm may have been brought about in an unexpected way” … . We conclude that the hazard that caused plaintiff’s injury, i.e., the movement of the roll while it was being placed back in an upright position, was “within the class of foreseeable hazards” associated with a roll falling off the allegedly defective pallet truck …, and thus a jury “could rationally [find] that . . . there was a causal connection between [defendants’ alleged] negligence and plaintiff’s injuries” … . We thus reject the contention of defendants that the falling roll merely “furnished the occasion” for plaintiff’s accident.
We also reject the contention of defendants that the actions of plaintiff and his coworkers in attempting to upright the roll were a superseding cause of plaintiff’s injuries. “An intervening act may not serve as a superseding cause, and relieve an actor of responsibility, where the risk of the intervening act is the very same risk which renders the actor negligent” … . As noted above, the risk of the roll falling while being uprighted is the same risk underlying plaintiffs’ allegations of negligence, and we conclude that the actions of plaintiff and his coworkers were not “of such an extraordinary nature” as to relieve defendants of liability … . Ard v Thompson & Johnson Equip. Co., Inc., 2015 NY Slip Op 03985, 4th Dept 5-8-15