CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) - A policeman claims in court that he is paralyzed because of a bulletproof vest for which he never received proper instruction.
Michael Vernon sued Safariland, which made the vest, and Ed Roehr Safety Products, which trained him on how to use it, in St. Louis County Circuit Court.
Vernon, a former Florissant police officer, says he was chasing a robbery suspect who shot at him five times on May 28, 2012.
Vernon was hit three times - in the shoulder, in the calf and under the arm - that bullet pierced his lungs and lodged in his spine.
Vernon says he was wearing the Safariland bulletproof vest which he received at the police academy in 2009. He says he wore it as he had been instructed by an Ed Roehr employee. The John Doe employee also is named as a defendant.
"The vest worn by plaintiff on May 28, 2012 was accompanied by a kind of 'overlap' which connected the back of the vest to the front of the vest," the complaint states.
"Plaintiff and the other officers in the City of Florissant Police Department did not wear this 'overlap' because they were never provided any instruction on how to attach it, nor were they given any warning that failure to wear the 'overlap' would reduce the protection provided by the vest.
"As a result of plaintiff not receiving the proper training on the manner in which to attach the 'overlap,' the vest left an area exposed on plaintiff, which resulted in him being struck by the bullet that lodged in his spine, causing him permanent paralysis in his lower extremities."
Vernon also claims the vest failed to stop the bullet that hit his shoulder from breaking the skin.
He seeks damages for product liability, failure to warn and negligence. He is represented by Rick Berry of St. Louis.
Florissant, pop. 52,145, is 20 miles northwest of St. Louis.