On Monday, December 6, firm partners Leto Copeley (Chapel Hill) and Ann Groninger (Charlotte) obtained a $250,000.00 verdict in Forsyth County Superior Court on behalf of their client, Thomas M. Sprinkle, against Hammaker East Emulsions, LLC, an asphalt manufacturing company.
Mr. Sprinkle was working for his employer Blythe Industries as a tack distributor truck driver on December 3, 2008, the day of his injury. That morning his truck was empty and he drove to Hammaker East to have the truck loaded with tack. After directing him to the loading dock and inserting the pipe into his truck, a Hammaker employee told Mr. Sprinkle that the pipes were clogged and it would be a little while before the tack started flowing. Mr. Sprinkle remained on top of his truck, as he normally did, waiting for the tack to flow. What he did not know, because Hammaker employees failed to tell him, was that when the clog loosened, it would come out with a big “kapow.” He also did not know that, in addition to blowing air through and heating the pipes, the Hammaker employees left on the valve that allowed tack to flow from their system into Mr. Sprinkle’s truck. When the clog finally loosened, the pipe came bursting out of the truck, spraying tack all over the truck and Mr. Sprinkle and knocking Mr. Sprinkle more than 10 feet to the ground.
Mr. Sprinkle’s knee was “pulverized” according to his doctor. He had a complicated surgery to reconstruct his knee, a long period of recovery, and will likely need knee replacement surgery in the future. After knocking him off his truck, Hammaker employees left Mr. Sprinkle sitting outside in the below-freezing temperature, until his supervisor arrived and called 911. There was testimony that Hammaker’s plant manager, Bryan Miller, was slurring his words and reeked of alcohol immediately after Mr. Sprinkle’s fall.
Attorney Valerie Johnson and paralegal Elizabeth Weatherspoon, along with Narendra Ghosh of Patterson Harkavy, provided valuable assistance throughout the trial.