An Arcade man who suffered back injuries in a 2007 workplace accident at a North Tonawanda recycling plant was awarded more than $10 million last week.
A State Supreme Court jury awarded $10.1 million to Kirby J. Colling, 28, who sued Frontier Fibers after the Feb. 12, 2007, accident at its Mechanic Street plant.
Colling, who was 21 when he was hurt, was delivering documents to be shredded at Frontier for his employer, Hanes Supply, a Buffalo contractor and industrial supplier, according to the suit.
At the recycling plant, a Frontier forklift driver rounded a corner and pushed a heavy pallet of shredded materials into Colling, pinning him against a shredder machine, said Anne B. Rimmler of the Paul William Beltz law firm, who represented Colling.
Justice Donna M. Siwek presided at the trial.
The award included more than $2 million for past and future medical expenses, nearly $4 million for the loss of past and future earnings, more than $3.2 million for past and future pain and suffering, and more than $848,000 for loss of past and future household services, Rimmler said.
The forklift operator, a recent hire, had not been properly trained and certified to operate the forklift, she said.
Colling suffered a fracture and other injuries to his lower back and was required to undergo two surgical procedures, including artificial disc replacement. He also faces additional medical procedures throughout his life, his attorney said.
The accident left Colling disabled and unable to pursue a career in law enforcement, according to his attorney. He has an associate degree in criminal justice from Niagara County Community College. He was attending SUNY Buffalo State when the accident occurred. He had served as an intern for several law enforcement agencies in Niagara County and had passed an exam to become a Buffalo police officer. But he was unable to take the physical agility test because of his injuries.
Since the accident, Colling has held several part-time jobs, including as assistant wrestling coach at Pioneer Central High School, where he had been a state and regional wrestling champion, according to his attorney. He also wrestled at NCCC.