$575,000 for Workplace Injuries

New Jersey Law Journal
By: Mary P. Gallagher
June 3, 2002

Siaw v. Sandvik Sorting Systems: A former package handler agreed last Tuesday to accept $575,000 to settle claims for a conveyor-belt accident that mangled and scarred his arm.

Kwaku Siaw, 30, of Irvington, was working for Federal Express in its Newark Airport warehouse on March 3, 1999, when the accident occurred, says his lawyer, Shelley Stangler.

It was FedEx procedure to turn off the conveyor belt at the end of a shift to recover packages that might have slipped off the belt, says Stangler, who heads a firm in Springfield. Siaw was reaching under the parallel conveyor belts when his arm became caught in an unguarded roller. His left humerus broke into several pieces.

Stangler says a disputed issue was whether the belt was moving when Siaw reached underneath or whether someone turned it back on.

Siaw was out of work for about two years and was then terminated, Stangler says. He can no longer do manual work and is employed as a security guard.

Siaw sued Sandvik Sorting Systems of Louisville, Ky., the manufacturer-designer of the conveyor-belt system, and Maintech, a South Plainfield maintenance company hired by FedEx to maintain the conveyor-belt system. FedEx was also sued but only for discovery purposes.

Under the settlement, Liberty Mutual Insurance will pay $450,000 on behalf of Sandvik, with the other $125,000 to come from Maintech's carrier, Travelers Property Casualty Co.

The lawyers for Sandvik and Maintech, Burchard Martin Sr., a partner with Westmont's Martin, Gunn & Martin, and Jeffrey Mazzola, counsel with the Morris Plains office of William Staehle, did not return calls for comment.