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Family of man crushed in Baltimore construction accident files wrongful death suit

The family of a delivery driver who died after being crushed last year in Baltimore by wood trusses he was about to unload from a tractor trailer has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the foreman who caused the trusses to fall and the construction company that employed him.

Charles Sibert, a 72-year-old driver for J&R Transport in Thurmont, was standing in the flatbed tractor trailer’s “fall shadow” — the area where a pedestrian can be struck by cargo falling from the trailer — when Michael Kouneski approached the truck from the opposite side and began using a forklift to remove the wood trusses, according to the lawsuit, filed last week in Baltimore City Circuit Court.

The forklift caused several bundles of trusses to topple off the driver’s side of the truck and fall on top of Sibert, crushing him. Sibert suffered “extremely painful catastrophic injuries” and was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency medical personnel, the suit states.

Sibert had transported the wood trusses from Universal Forest Products in New Windsor to the construction site Sept. 28, 2015. Kouneski, the foreman, showed him where to park when he arrived at 6 a.m., the suit states.

Before the accident, Kouneski’s competency to operate a forklift had not been evaluated for more than three years, in violation of Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, the suit states. Kouneski and A.L.L. Construction, the construction contractor that employed him, are both defendants in the suit, which alleges wrongful death and negligence.

Sibert’s daughters, Sue Haxton and Ronda Gosney, who is also representing his estate, are represented by Andrew G. Slutkin and Ethan S. Nochumowitz of Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White LLC. Plaintiff Donna Hicks, who is pursuing a wrongful death claim on behalf of their minor son, Charles Sibert Jr., is represented by Salsbury Sullivan LLC.

The case is Ronda Gosney, et al., v. Michael Kouneski, et al.

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