Beasley Allen’s Ben Baker filed a lawsuit on behalf of a veteran UPS driver killed while he was delivering packages during the pandemic. Gary Kukelhan died after a rear wheel and tire assembly broke free from a truck owned by defendant Kona Ice Company and slammed into Kukelhan’s front, driver’s-side windshield on June 10, 2020 in Shelby County. The lawsuit claims that Defendant Melton Automotive, Inc., performed maintenance on the Kona vehicle shortly before the incident, including installing new tires on the Kona truck.
“This terrible, needless incident claimed the life of a father, brother and son who was also an essential worker, vital to our economy during this year’s pandemic,” Baker said. “The wheel and tire assembly at the center of this tragedy should never have come loose from its truck. The defendants must be held accountable for their failure to properly install the tire and their disregard for the traveling public’s safety.”
The 61-year-old driver was about three months from retiring and had been honored by the company in 2019 for his safe driving. In February 2019, Kukelhan was inducted into the UPS Circle of Honor, an honorary organization for UPS drivers who achieved 25 or more years of accident-free driving.
The lawsuit claims that Melton failed to properly torque lug nuts on the rear wheel assembly and/or otherwise failed to provide appropriate maintenance and/or repairs to the Kona truck involved in the incident. It further alleges that despite knowing that the vehicle was unsafe for operation and needed repairs, Kona Ice sent the vehicle onto the public roads, placing the traveling public at risk of such an incident that took Kukelhan’s life. The defendants’ negligent and reckless actions led to the incident that resulted in Kukelhan’s fatal injuries.
The lawsuit is filed in the Circuit Court of Shelby County, Alabama, case number 58-CV-2020-900594.00.