A warehouse worker crushed by an 800-pound palette that he says was knocked over by a forklift operator high on heroin has filed a $50 million lawsuit against the driver and the staffing agency that put him to work.
According to the lawsuit filed last week in Connecticut Superior Court, plaintiff Juan Cruz worked at a Hartford warehouse that contracted with Spec Personnel to provide temporary workers. On Sept. 19, 2017, Spec brought in JeanPaul Paez, who Cruz claims has a known heroin addiction and used the drug before coming into his shift that day.
Cruz alleges that Paez, while operating a forklift, caused a palette of lighting products to fall 30 feet onto him. Cruz was paralyzed and won’t be able to walk for the rest of his life, according to the lawsuit.
Paez was drug tested after the incident and heroin was found in his system, Cruz claims. Paez was immediately fired.
Andrew Garza of the Connecticut Trial Firm filed suit on Cruz’s behalf against Paez and Spec, alleging the staffing agency should have known about Paez’s heroin addiction, which made him dangerous to other workers at the warehouse. The lawsuit also claims the agency failed to conduct regular drug testing on its employees.
“There’s some questions there about what they knew and should have known about this guy’s extracurricular activities outside of work,” Garza said.
Cruz has also made a negligence claim against lighting and electronics company Philips, which had products stored in the warehouse. Garza said the palette that crushed his client was not secured according to industry regulations.
Cruz’s wife and two children also made loss-of-consortium claims against Philips, Spec and Paez.
Garza said Spec has refused to disclose information about its insurance provider.
A representative for Spec’s headquarters in Durham, North Carolina, declined to comment on Cruz’s allegations or on Garza’s comment regarding the company’s insurance.