Ladders common to many hardware stores and households could be dangerous, according to the widow of a man who died after plunging 14 feet in November of 2008.
“They need to make a safer product so no one will be in my situation again,” said Emily Weber, while seated in a Houston attorney’s office.
Weber’s husband, Alan Blankenship, died after falling from an extension ladder manufactured by Werner Company, one of the largest ladder distributors in the world.
Weber learned of the accident in a phone call that still haunts her.
“It was the worse phone call anyone should have to get. His secretary told me he had fallen and was being rushed to one of the local hospitals,” she remembered.
Blankenship never regained consciousness. The cause of death was listed as blunt force trauma.
“It was a tool he was using to do his job and ultimately it caused his death,” said Weber.
Wednesday, a Houston attorney filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Weber's behalf, claiming the ladder manufacturer designed a product with a defective locking mechanism, which made the item unreasonably dangerous.
“If you have a defective locking mechanism, then you’re putting everybody at risk of serious injury and even death, which happened in this case," said attorney Jason Gibson.
Werner has been sued several times since 2004 by people who were injured while using the company's ladders. A Werner spokesperson refused to comment citing the pending litigation.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. Blankenship’s widow said no one can put a price on the life that was lost, a loss that has left her to raise four children without a father.
“I never got to say goodbye. All I got was a phone call that said it was over.”