U.S. District Court Grants Motion Under Contribution Act for Injured Employee, Spoliation of Evidence

United Parcel Service (UPS) has conceded it could not sue Material Handling Services (MHS) for contribution under the Illinois Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act. This case stems from an incident involving Raichid Rafik, a UPS employee who was struck on the head by a 10-lb. metal disc that fell from an overhead package handling system.

Rafik sued MHS for negligence in designing and installing the warehouse machinery and UPS for spoliation in choosing not to preserve the evidence he needed to identify and sue the shipper for negligent packaging. UPS filed a cross-claim against MHS for subrogation, equitable and statutory.

UPS reasoned it was entitled to equitable subrogation and statutory subrogation under 740 ILCS 100/2(f) of the Illinois Contribution Act because (1) the damage it potentially owed for spoliation was equal to what Rafik could have recovered from the shipper, and (2) the shipper could have pursued a contribution claim against MHS.

The U.S. District Court judge granted MHS’s motion to dismiss with permission to try again with a contractual claim. It was explained by the federal district court judge that “UPS’ alleged destruction of evidence prevents MHS from effectively arguing that the shipper, and not MHS, caused Rafik’s injury” and “it would be fundamentally unfair for UPS to turn its alleged wrongdoing on its head and seek to decrease its liability based on MHS’s alleged negligence.” This matter obviously has some pending matters still to be resolved in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.

Rafik v. Material Handling Systems, No. 19 C 5578 (July 29, 2020).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling catastrophic injury lawsuits, work injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits for individuals, families and loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Franklin Park, River Forest, Des Plaines, Arlington Heights, Palatine, Bannockburn, Highwood, Wilmette, Oak Park, Burbank, Crestwood, Dixmoor, Chicago (Morgan Park, West Pullman, Englewood, Back of the Yards, Brighton Park, Jackson Park, South Chicago, Hyde Park, Bronzeville), Stickney, Melrose Park, Schiller Park, Western Springs, La Grange Highlands, Hinsdale and Palos Heights, Ill.

Robert D. Kreisman has been an active member of the Illinois and Missouri bars since 1976.

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