A southern California man who lost his leg after a workplace forklift accident has been award a $17 million verdict in a lawsuit against PennySaver USA.
Steven Meier, a Riverside resident, was a 62-year-old security guard at the Jurupa Valley PennySaver USA in October 2013 when he was struck by a forklift travelling in reverse. His right leg was crushed before he was dragged several feet, then his leg was “degloved” of the skin.
A second forklift was required to remove the first one off of him, The Press-Enterprise reported.
Meier was rushed to the hospital where he underwent 11 surgeries. He fought back multiple infections over the course of several months in hospitals and nursing homes. In July 2015, his leg was finally amputated below the knee.
Meier was devastated.
“He tried as hard as he could, going through all the physical therapy,” his brother, Rob Meier, told the Press-Enterprise. “At that point he was positive … then all of a sudden we go to a doctor who says, ‘Your ankle isn’t doing what it needs to do.’”
Rob described his brother as being “extremely independent” until the accident happened.
“He worked as a security guard, did all his own shopping, and would go wherever he wanted,” Rob added. “We had a couple of dogs that he would walk … He wasn’t sedentary.”
An attorney for Travelers Insurance, the company that insures PennySavers, called Steven Meier “oblivious” in a pretrial statement, and said his injuries were his own fault. He pointed out that the forklifts have a backup alarm and a strobe light, and blamed Meier for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The jury disagreed, however, slapping the coupon booklet printing company with a $17 million verdict last Tuesday.
Steven Meier’s attorney believes his client will need every bit of the large award. “I think the verdict was very fair and reasonable given the liability and damage issues in the case,” Meier’s attorney told the Press-Enterprise. “It’s a large verdict, but it’s warranted given the facts and circumstances of what happened to Steven Meier.
“It’s certainly going to provide for his needs for the rest of his life — and he’s going to need a lot of things,” the attorney added. “The hope is that it will make life somewhat better for him, although he will always have challenges.”