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According to the product liability lawsuit — filed in December in US District Court in Roanoke — the forklift operator, George Demian, 44, was driving a forklift at the Elizabeth Arden plant on Dec. 28, 2014.
While he was backing up his forklift, Demian struck a horizontal support beam used to hold up shelves in the warehouse. He was crushed to death between the beam and the forklift.
Forklift Design Flaw?
The lawsuit claims that Demain’s death resulted from a design flaw on the forklift. Namely, the forklift lacked rear vertical posts that would have prevented the horizontal beam from striking Demian, according to news reports.
The suit charges that the vehicle was “unreasonably dangerous” and that the warehouse operators, the forklift’s manufacturer, and the company that sold the forklift to the warehouse — Werres Corp., of Maryland — should be held accountable.
The lawsuit states that Raymond offered rear posts on the particular model of forklift as an option only, even though the company was aware that they had been standard equipment on forklifts since the 1960s.
Family Man Who Was Active in His Church
Demian was a native of Egypt who was survived by his wife and two sons. He was a deacon at the St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church.
In court filings, Raymond and Werres denied most of the allegations outlined in the suit. It was noted that because the lawsuit did not include the forklift’s specific serial number, the two companies could not respond to specific claims made about its design.
The lawsuit originally was filed in Roanoke Circuit Court in October but was transferred to the federal court because that’s where legal disputes between parties located in different states are usually heard. Raymond is headquartered in Greene, New York.