BECKLEY -– A man who collided with a guard rail is blaming the accident on his employer, saying the company provided him with a truck containing worn tires.

Richard Lee Bowden filed a lawsuit in Greenbrier Circuit Court against Frito-Lay, which Frito-Lay then removed to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on Aug. 11.

In his complaint, Bowden claims he was working as a substitute driver for Frito-Lay on July 11, 2007, and was operating a company truck on Interstate 64 near White Sulpher Springs.

At the time Bowden was driving the truck, the road was wet from a recent rain, according to the complaint.

"As a result of the combination of rainwater on the road and the fact that the tires on said vehicle were almost smooth and were in violation of state law, plaintiff's vehicle hydroplaned as he was coming off of a bridge causing his said vehicle to collide with a guard rail, thereby causing severe damage to the truck and severe injuries to the plaintiff," the suit states.

Before his accident, Bowden claims Frito-Lay had been notified by the truck's regular driver that the tires were probably illegal and were definitely unsafe, the complaint says.

Still, Frito-Lay failed to replace the tires, Bowden claims.

As a result of Bowden's collision, he suffered two herniated discs in his low back, which caused him to be disabled, and his injuries continue to be painful, disabling and upsetting, according to the complaint. In addition, Bowden has incurred medical costs of about $15,000 and lost wages of $11,200, the suit states.

Bowden is seeking a judgment that will compensate him for his losses minus any workers' compensation paid, plus pre-judgment interest and other relief to which he may be entitled.

But Frito-Lay says Bowden is not entitled to any damages and is prohibited from filing a lawsuit because he is being paid workers' compensation and because there was no deliberate intent.

"The Plaintiff's claim for compensation based on his alleged injuries is barred because such compensation, if any was due, has been paid," Frito-Lay states in its answer.

Because Bowden is a Raleigh County resident and Frito-Lay is a Delaware corporation and because Bowden is seeking more than $75,000, Frito-Lay removed the complaint to federal court.

In its answer, Frito-Lay is asking the federal court to dismiss Bowden's case and to award the company all costs and other relief to which it is entitled.

William H. Sanders III of Sanders, Austin, Flanigan and Flanigan in Princeton will be representing Bowden.

Stuart A. McMillan and Thomas M. Hancock of Bowles, Rice, McDavid, Graff and Love in Charleston will be representing Frito-Lay.

U.S. District Court case number: 5:09-914

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