International Paper Settles Employee Cell Phone Negligence Suit

February 13, 2008 ( - International Paper has agreed to a $5.2 million out-of-court settlement in a personal injury lawsuit arising out of a 2006 auto accident involving an employee using a company cell phone.

According to the Fulton County Daily Report,the negligence suit filed by Debra Ford against International Paper and Vanessa C. McGrogan involved a crash on Interstate 16 near Dublin, Georgia when McGrogan, an International Paper employee hit the back of Ford’s car, pushing it into a ditch on the side of the road where it overturned and trapped Ford’s arm between the driver’s side door and the roadway.

McGrogan had set her cruise control at 77 miles per hour – in a 70 mph speed zone, the news report said. Medical complications eventually forced Ford, a widowed mother of four, to have her arm amputated almost up to the shoulder.


During early proceedings, International Paper alleged the loss of Ford’s arm was caused at least in part by the fact that she was a smoker and that smoking had damaged her vascular system, thus impairing the healing process. The company also contended that McGrogan was not actually operating the phone at the time of the accident, but, according to the news report, a witness testified he saw her with the phone to her ear.

The suit had been set for trial March 17.