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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nova Scotia Man Awarded Over $92,000 From Towing Company For Injuries

Here's the story from the Chronicle Herald:

BRIDGEWATER — A Lunenburg County man who suffered permanent damage after his face and upper body were squashed between two garbage trucks has been awarded more than $92,000 in damages.

In a decision released Wednesday, Justice Peter Bryson said, "Carl Mawdsley is fortunate to be alive."

He said Mawdsley, a slight man who stands just five-foot-four and weighs 135 pounds, was climbing into the cab of a truck when his head was crushed between its door and the truck beside it.

Though the incident was "mercifully brief," Bryson said Mawdsley still suffers some ill effects today, nearly nine years after the accident.

Mawdsley, who lives in Upper Chelsea, sued McCarthy’s Towing & Recovery Ltd. and driver Byron McCarthy for damages after he became caught between the two garbage trucks, one of which McCarthy was in the process of towing away.

The incident happened Sept. 10, 2001. Mawdsley was picking up cardboard for recycling from a Lunenburg grocery store when his rear-loading garbage truck stalled. His employer, G.E. All Trucking Ltd. sent a replacement truck, which was parked besides Mawdsley’s stalled truck.

Byron McCarthy arrived to tow Mawdsley’s truck. He testified he checked his mirrors and didn’t see anyone between the trucks, but Mawdsley was between them and as the tow truck began pulling the stalled vehicle, Mawdsley’s head and torso were trapped between the two trucks.

A co-worker saw what was happening, yelled and McCarthy stopped the tow truck within seconds.

Mawdsley was taken to hospital in Lunenburg then flown by helicopter to Halifax where he spent 11 days in hospital. Among his injuries, he suffered a broken right lower jaw, a severed facial nerve that left him without feeling on the right side of his face, a puncture wound to his chest, two broken ribs and nerve damage to his left forearm.

He has had two jaw surgeries but his face is still asymmetrical. He has lost some sensitivity in his left arm, suffered mild brain trauma and is self-conscious about the scar that runs across the right side of his face. Mawdsley said he suffers pain, discomfort and fatigue when he does much physical work and while he can do most of the things he did before the accident, he said they take a lot longer.Bryson calculated total damages, taking into account lost earnings and diminished earning capacity, at $231,059.62. But he reduced the award to $92,423.85 because he ruled that Mawdsley was 60 per cent liable for the incident because he should have been aware, as he began walking between the two trucks, that the towed truck was being moved.

If he did not notice it moving he should have because "the distinctive hiss of the air brakes releasing would have been an ominous sign of impending movement by the tow truck," the judge said.

He said McCarthy was 40 per cent liable for the accident because he failed to continue checking his mirrors.

""If he had done so, he likely would have seen Mr. Mawdsley make his ill-advised move," Bryson said.

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