CHARLESTON - A Kanawha County man filed a suit against a local lumber company and a company that designed his helmet system, after he was paralyzed when a tree limb fell on him during his workday.

Bobby Woods filed the suit March 11 in Kanawha Circuit Court, against Pierson Lumber Company and Stihl Incorporated.

According to the suit, Woods was working with Pierson Lumber on June 18, 2007, cutting timber near Clendenin.

Woods claims he was provided with a Stihl Helmet System, which consisted of a hardhat, hearing protection and a mesh face screen. However, due to the helmet's design, Woods claims his visibility was significantly impaired, especially when attempting to view overhead conditions.

According to the suit, Woods was instructed to cut timber June 18, 2007, despite severe fog in the area, which impaired the plaintiff's ability to make a visual inspection of the area prior to felling trees.

Woods attempted to assess the overhead hazards in his working area, then cut a tree and attempted to move along the retreat path he had chosen prior to felling the tree, the suit says.

However, there was a grapevine, which Woods claims he was unable to detect due to the fog and the design of the Stihl helmet, which impaired his vision.

As a result, the grapevine became tangled around a large limb on the adjacent tree, snapping the limb off the tree and throwing it into the area where Woods was, hitting him and crushing two vertebrae in his spine, the suit says.

Woods suffered severe and permanent injuries that left him paralyzed from the chest down. He also suffered other physical and mental injuries.

In the four-count suit, Woods claims Pierson Lumber violated the West Virginia Code by intentionally exposing him to a high risk of injury by falling trees, limbs and other debris.

He also claims Stihl was negligent in designing, manufacturing and distributing the Stihl Helmet System.

Woods seeks damages for all costs.

Attorney L. Lee Javins is representing Woods. The case has been assigned to Judge Tod Kaufman.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 08-C-472

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