The father of a 19-year-old man who died in a forklift accident in July is suing the owners of the property where the workplace accident took place.
In a 16-count wrongful-death lawsuit, Michael Boland, father of Zachery Boland, is seeking at least $1.2 million in damages. Defendants in the lawsuit include Gateway RT, which owns the warehouses at 12 Gateway Commerce Center Drive East in Edwardsville, DTZ Americas, NACCO Materials Handling Group, Blue Giant Equipment and Roberts Loading Dock Equipment Company.
DTZ Americas, which merged with Cushman & Wakefield last year, managed the property at 12 Gateway Commerce Center Drive, according to the lawsuit.
Brad Kreiger, a spokesman for Cushman & Wakefield, said the company could not comment on pending litigation.
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In the July 15 incident, Zachery Boland was using a forklift to unload a truck on the property owned by Gateway, when the truck, driven by one of his coworkers, unexpectedly drove forward, causing the forklift to fall in the gap between the truck and the dock, said Thomas Q. Keefe Jr., attorney for Michael Boland.
The forklift fell backward, causing Zachery Boland to strike his head on the door plate of a loading dock, the coroner’s office said in July. Boland had worked at the facility for less than a month.
The lawsuit contends that the area where Zachery Boland worked should have had a vehicle restraint system or wheel restraint system, electronic signaling with its dock leveler, a red and green warning system or other safety device to alert the truck driver the dock leveler was in use. The lawsuit also alleges there wasn’t adequate surveillance or communication between a truck driver and dock workers, and not enough warnings.
“This is a brand new facility. For whatever reason, they didn’t want to have this stuff because it cost more,” Keefe said.
Blue Giant is a manufacturer and seller of loading dock equipment. Roberts Loading Dock Equipment Company sells and installs forklift and loading dock equipment.
NACCO Materials sells and leases forklifts. The lawsuit claims the forklift didn’t incorporate a seat belt, harness, headrest, restraint, guard, latching door or safety devices to keep the operator’s head and torso protected during a tip-over.
Zachery Boland, who lived in Mitchell, worked for Saddle Creek Logistics Services, which rents the location from Gateway.
“(Gateway), has a responsibility to give the tenant, and employees of the tenant, a safe place to work,” Keefe said.
Boland did not have a wife or children, so his family could not make any claims under worker’s compensation law, Keefe said.
“It is a possibility the person most legally culpable, Saddle Creek, could get out of this and not pay anything,” Keefe said.
Saddle Creek did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
The other defendants named in the lawsuit did not return phone calls or could not reached for comment.
Saddle Creek was cited by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration for a serious violation, “for not providing a workplace free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees,” according to an OSHA Notification of Penalty issued earlier this month.
In order for Saddle Creek to avoid a $7,000 fine, the company can put in place a dock locking system using rear impact guard hooks, putting wheel locks systems with stop and go light and audible notification systems, or systems that lock an air hose between the tractor and trailer to prevent it from being reconnected during the loading and unloading process.