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Wagner v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

April 2, 2014

WILLIAM WAGNER, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

ORDER

GRAHAM C. MULLEN, District Judge.

THIS MATTER came before the Court on a bench trial held on March 24-25, 2014. For the reasons set forth herein, the Court finds in favor of Defendant.

I. FINDINGS OF FACT

Having reviewed and carefully considered the evidence and arguments presented at trial, the Court makes the following findings of fact:

1. In July 2009, Plaintiff William Wagner was employed as a long-distance truck driver for BJ Trucking, Inc., d/b/a Mail Transport Services, a/k/a MTS. He had been so employed for about seven years.

2. MTS is a contractor providing highway trucking services to the United States Postal Service.

3. In July 2009, Wagner resided near Lehigh, Pennsylvania and drove a mail truck back and forth between the Postal Service's Lehigh Valley facility and Charlotte, North Carolina for about four days a week. The route included stops at Roanoke, Virginia, and Greensboro, North Carolina, and took about thirteen hours to complete. The route terminated at the Charlotte Logistics & Distribution Center, known commonly as "L & DC."

4. In addition to driving the mail truck, Wagner's responsibilities included loading and unloading the mail his truck was carrying at the various stops along his route. This was done by pushing and/or pulling rolling carts of mail on and off the truck. These carts varied widely in terms of weight, with some weighing several hundred pounds.

5. Another of Wagner's activities included opening overhead dock doors at the various mail facilities so that the truck could be loaded or unloaded.

6. The overhead door system at the Charlotte L&DC utilized a system whereby coiled springs above the door connect to the door with vertical cables and are tensioned or balanced so that the springs are supposed to do most of the lifting of the door. A person wishing to open the door typically need only exert a small to moderate amount of force to engage the springs and lift the door.

7. On July 21, 2009, at about 2:30 p.m., Wagner backed his truck up to the Charlotte L&DC. He entered the facility in order to unload mail from his truck, which he had backed up to Dock Door 46.

8. While attempting to open Dock Door 46 from inside the facility, Wagner called out that he had hurt his back. Ron Watkins, a USPS employee who drives a forklift at the L&DC, came over to Door 46 and opened it with his forklift.

9. Thereafter, Wagner was transported to CMC-Mercy by John Hunt, another MTS employee. Wagner was discharged from the emergency room with pain medication and instructions to visit his family physician.

10. Upon his return home, Wagner visited his family physician, who sent him for an MRI. The MRI revealed a ...


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