ST. LOUIS • A federal jury this week awarded $2.2 million to an Oklahoma truck driver injured while unloading Dollar General merchandise at a Troy, Mo., store, and $120,000 to his wife.
The driver, Gregory Baird, was unloading his truck in the dark on Black Friday in 2007 when an improperly loaded 38-pound box fell on his head, knocking him unconscious and injuring his neck and back, Baird lawyer John D. Anderson said Friday.
Jurors in U.S. District Court in St. Louis awarded $4.6 million to Baird and $250,000 to his wife, but also found that he was 52 percent at fault, so the award was reduced by that amount, Anderson said.
The lawyer said that jurors believed Baird should should have used some sort of light or not unloaded in the dark, Anderson said. Dollar General presented testimony that he could have unloaded the next day, but Anderson said Baird would have been fired by his employer, Hogan Trucking, if he waited.
Anderson said Baird had just started a new job, bought a house and was a newlywed. “So he didn't want to lose his new job.”
Anderson said that Baird is still suffering from the injury. “He's in terrible shape,” he said. “Obviously, the jury believed that to come back with a verdict that's almost $5 million dollars.”
Baird sued in 2011. The civil trial took 11 days, ending late Wednesday. Anderson said that nine doctors testified for Dollar General that Baird wasn't hurt. “The jury apparently didn't believe any of them,” he said.
Anderson said that Baird also filed a worker's compensation claim, but that has never been paid.
Dean C. Nichols, one of the lawyers who represented the company, declined to comment when reached Friday.