Injuries Sustained During the Course of Unloading Process

In Kennedy v. Jefferson Smurfit Co., 147 N.J. 394, 400, 688 A.2d 89 (1997), the owner of a tractor was dispatched by the company which leased his tractor to Jefferson Smurfit Company to pick up a trailer loaded with cardboard which he was to deliver to a packaging corporation. Kennedy, supra, 147 N.J. at 396, 688 A.2d 89. The cardboard in the trailer was loaded on wooden pallets and wrapped in bundles weighing about 100 pounds each. Ibid. He inspected the goods and when they seemed in order left for the packaging corporation. When he arrived at the corporation, he waited in the trailer and watched the unloading procedure. However, one of the pallets was rotted and it collapsed and fell on Kennedy causing injuries. Ibid. Although Kennedy's injuries were sustained during the course of the unloading process, Jefferson's negligent act of selecting a pallet occurred prior to the physical loading and unloading of the goods. In applying the doctrine of complete operation, the Court found that the selection of the defective pallet was "an integral part of the loading operation" because the pallets were necessary components utilized to load the goods and therefore the selection process can be considered preparation which is clearly not distinct from the loading/unloading process itself. Id. at 401, 688 A.2d 89.