Damages and injuries sustained during transportation are always a cause for concern for glass companies. Various challenges can arise, from glass breaking to lites falling on drivers while unloading.

Diligence is critical, along with proper planning. A well-designed crate that is correctly restrained is vital to the safety of the glass and drivers during shipping, Adam Mitchell, AGNORA’s marketing manager, told USGNN.

A suit introduced by a Crete Carrier driver aimed to hold the defendant, Jeld-Wen Inc., liable for injuries sustained during unloading. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. 

However, damages and injuries occur, and the line of responsibility between the carrier and the glass company is often blurred.

An Oregon federal judge faced this dilemma when a suit introduced by a Crete Carrier driver aimed to hold the defendant, Jeld-Wen Inc., liable for injuries sustained during unloading. The driver, Gary Groeneweg, argued in the suit that Jeld-Wen be held liable for negligence under the Oregon Safe Employment Act and the Oregon Employer Liability Law.

Jeld-Wen filed a motion to dismiss.

The Incident

Groeneweg claimed in the suit that he was struck in the head while unloading a stack of windows. He stated that the windows he was carrying shifted, striking him in the head and knocking him to the ground. While on the ground, another window dropped on him as PB Supply employees pulled him out.

He was transported to the hospital and diagnosed with a broken neck and a laceration to his head. According to the suit, this wasn’t the first injury Groeneweg suffered delivering Jeld-Wen windows. Six months prior, he slipped while unloading, and windows fell on him. He filed a workers’ compensation claim following the incident.

The Decision

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled that Jeld-Wen is entitled to summary judgment, dismissing Groeneweg’s claims. Aiken wrote that Jeld-Wen is not liable for Groeneweg’s injuries because the shipping company was hired to perform the service. She added that Jeld-Wen did not own the trailer nor control the trailer’s unloading, which was Crete’s responsibility.

“The work involving risk or danger is the unloading of the trailer,” Aiken wrote in her decision. “With respect to the second factor, there is no evidence that [Jeld-Wen] had the legal right to control the unloading process or that they retained that right or power to do so. Rather, the evidence is that decisions concerning how the windows would be unloaded from the trailer were made by the employees of PB Supply and by Crete through [Groeneweg]. The Court concludes that [Jeld-Wen] did not control or have a right to control the manner or method by which the trailer was unloaded.”

1 Comment

  1. In my experience, most serious accidents in the glass industry are “tip over” accidents involving either crated or uncrated glass. These occur both in unloading trucks and in handling racked glass. They always involve improper procedures. I have served as an expert witness in some cases where such accidents were fatal, and some where they were not. Inadequate training seems to be the universal cause.
    Glass companies should not derive much complacency from the decision in the Jeld-Wen case. Often, the glass company’s crane or forklift is required to unload a glass delivery. Company employees and the truck driver may both be involved in the work. Liability for an accident may not fall solely on the delivery company.
    Usually, the glass company personnel have much more experience than the truck driver at moving glass crates while managing the balance of a truck. Proper training of the person in charge of the unloading process is essential.

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