A refuse-truck driver who claimed his spine was injured when the front wheel on his rig collapsed, causing the vehicle to drop to the ground, has been awarded a $11.4-million judgment by a federal court jury in San Francisco.
In the 2007 incident, the right front hub of the truck fractured and the wheel fell off while Raymond Mariolle, 46, was driving.
In his lawsuit the trucker said Consolidated Metco, which made the hub, Volvo Trucks, which built the cab and chassis, and Wittke Manufacturing, which designed the truck, all knew the hub was defective and overloaded and failed to warn drivers, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report.
Mariolle, a Waste Management Co. driver for more than 20 years, suffered compression injuries that left him in severe pain despite three surgeries, his lawyers said.
He returned to work 10 months after the accident and was later transferred to part-time and non-driving duties, but was physically unable to work after August 2010.
In their defense, the trucking supplier companies contended Mariolle had pre-existing back injuries that were the primary cause of his disabilities. But after a three-week trial, the jury found that the wheel hub, the truck, and the cab and chassis were defective and were the cause of Mariolle's injuries.
The truck driver was awarded $2.4 million for lost wages and medical costs and $7.5 million for pain and suffering. His wife, Regina Mariolle, was awarded $1.5 million for loss of marital and family relations.
The Chronicle report said lawyers for the truck suppliers declined to comment on the verdict, which could be appealed.