Excerpt from Virginia Lawyers Weekly – December 27, 2010.
The plaintiff was a 71-year-old mechanic working as an independent contractor for the defendant contracting company. On Sept. 24, 2007, the truck driver for the defendant returned to the garage with a dump truck that needed the air brakes adjusted. The driver backed the dump truck up to the garage door and testified that he left the truck in first gear because the truck was on a slight incline. The driver did not inform the plaintiff the truck was left in first gear. The plaintiff put a woodblock in front of the left rear tandem tires. Then the plaintiff proceeded to make the necessary brake adjustments on the driver side of the dump truck before moving to the passenger side to make an adjustment to the rear brakes.
Plaintiff instructed the truck driver to start the engine in order to build up the air pressure in the airbrake line. The truck driver failed to climb completely into the truck and started the engine while standing on the running board and failed to put the vehicle in neutral before starting the engine. The driver testified he forgot the truck was in first gear and did not use the clutch, which allowed the truck to jump forward.