Tumbling Trays

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Q: I was working as a tractor-trailer driver for a transportation company, transporting bread products among a bakery’s facilities.  The bakery’s employees would place the bread on interlocking plastic trays, stack the trays 15-high on wheeled dollies, and load them onto our trailers.  One day, I picked up a trailer of bread.  Upon arriving at my destination, I opened the trailer door, removed the bar holding the dollies in place, and began unloading.  All of a sudden, from the rack I was pulling, several trays fell and struck me.

Unlike trays that are held secure by a metal rod, these ones did not truly interlock with one another.  The photos even show mismatched trays, of different colors – trays from different manufacturers with slightly different physical characteristics and dimensions, which would cause them not to nest properly within one another.  All in all, I think that the trays had been improperly stacked by the bakery’s employees, so the trays were unstable.  I have heard that other drivers had complained to the bakery about how the trays were stacked.

A: You appear to have a strong case both (a) that the bakery’s employees created the hazardous condition that caused your accident and (b) that the bakery had notice of a recurrent, dangerous condition with respect to the bread trays.  Even if you cannot identify exactly what caused the trays to fall, that should not matter.  Proximate cause may be inferred from the facts and circumstances.  You are not required to exclude every other possible cause, but need only offer evidence from which proximate cause may be reasonably inferred.  From what you tell me, it fairly appears that the bread trays fell from the dolly because the stack was unstable, and that the bakery is at fault.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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