MORGANTOWN -- A West Virginia Courtesy Patrol officer alleges a Monongalia County company was negligent in its training of an employee.

Gloria Harris claims Ervin's Auto Repair and Towing, Inc., failed to properly train their employee, David Lee, to inflate tractor trailer-size tires.

Filed on Feb. 13, the suit states that on March 9, 2004, Harris took a call about a tractor trailer with a flat tire on I-68 near mile-marker 18 in Preston County. Lee, a driver of a tow truck, arrived on the scene at the same time as Harris.

Apparently, Ervin's was previously aware of the situation, as the tire was removed the night before for repair.

Filed by Michael J. Aloi of Manchin and Aloi, P.L.L.C., the suit states instead of inflating the tire before trying to replace it on the tractor trailer, Lee tried to inflate the tire after he reattached it to the truck.

However, according to OSHA regulations, if the tire is inflated after being reattached, there should be a barrier in place to protect the mechanic and others. Lee did not make or put up any barrier to protect himself or Harris.

As Lee inflated the tire, it exploded and pieces struck Lee and Harris. Harris suffered severe injuries to her arm including a right colles fracture, an ulnar styloid fracture and a closed right distal radius fracture. Her trip to the emergency room cost her $10,433.85.

Harris believes that Ervin's was negligent because OSHA regulations also state that Ervin's is required to give all employees proper training for large tire repair, removal, and inflation. Lee received no such training.

Harris is seeking a trial by jury to award punitive damages for pain,
suffering, mental anguish and loss of ability to enjoy life. She is also seeking compensatory damages for lost wages, medical bills, loss of income, attorney's fees and court costs.

Monongalia Circuit Court case number: 06-C-101

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