Articles Posted in Product Defects

An Alabama Circuit Court jury signed a verdict in favor of the family of Larry Albritton who was killed in a rollover crash on Oct. 7, 2013.  Albritton was driving a log truck when it overturned. An eyewitness to this incident said the rollover occurred not at a high speed but as though it were happening in slow motion.

The load of logs apparently shifted when the truck rolled over and crashed through the truck’s cabin, killing the driver. The jury determined that the cab guard on this particular truck was defective in design, manufacture and in warnings. This was a truck product liability lawsuit.

The jury also determined that the manufacturer of the cab, Merritt Equipment Co., acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others and in the way it designed the guard, manufactured and provided warnings related to its cab guards and that the cab guard itself did not protect Albritton as it was designed to do. The defendants included Merritt Equipment Co. as well as Pitts Enterprises and Volvo Trucks North America Inc. Pitts and Volvo trucks settled prior to the entry of the verdict. The verdict was entered against Merritt Equipment Co. as the only defendant.

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Ignacio Maravilla was working as a laborer during a River North construction project at Wabash Avenue and Superior Street for Holy Name Cathedral on March 27, 2012. He was employed by Benchmark Construction Co.

As a 72-inch precast concrete flat-top slab was being hoisted, one of its imbedded steel lifting loops failed and broke off the slab, which struck Maravilla in the head and face.

The concrete slab with the imbedded loop inserts was designed and manufactured by the defendant Welch Brothers Inc. This lawsuit was for the injuries suffered by Maravilla because of the product defect of the concrete slab hoisting device.

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In 1993, the Luther Village Owners Corp. contacted Ken Bruce to see if he was interested in running a salon in their neighborhood. Bruce took ownership of the salon in 1994 and in 1996 formed Creative Designers, a corporation, which would run the salon. Bruce was president and operator of the salon.

Creative Designers employed all of the hairstylists who worked at the salon as independent contractors on one-year contracts. One of the stylists was the plaintiff, Ghada Hanna, who was hired in 2008.

The salon where Hanna worked was renovated by Luther Village in 2008. A series of “flip-top countertops” were installed, which could be tilted and locked into an upright position to allow increased reach and then be lowered again for counter space. Maintenance and modifications to the salon fixtures, including the countertops, was carried out by Luther Village.

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Christopher Ramirez, 22, was painting an interior wall of a building where he worked as a handyman. He was standing on the 9th rung of a 14-foot ladder. The ladder shook, slid and then collapsed causing him to fall. He suffered a fracture to his left elbow and bimalleolar fractures to his right ankle.

Ramirez underwent surgery, open reduction internal fixation of the ankle fracture. Two years later, Ramirez underwent decompression surgery to release and reposition the compressed ulnar nerve in his elbow.

Ramirez continues to suffer pain, numbness and a reduced range of motion in his ankle. He walks with a limp. Ramirez will likely require surgery to address the neuropathy of the ankle’s peroneal nerve.

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Across the country there have been many lawsuits filed against the makers and distributors of talc. Most of these suits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson as the maker of the baby powder used by many. In some courts, there have been very large jury verdicts for individuals who have been able to prove that the use of the baby powder caused ovarian cancer.

In this New Jersey consolidated case, two plaintiffs alleged that the talc-based product manufactured by the defendant had caused each of them to develop ovarian cancer. The issue for the court to decide here was whether the plaintiffs had shown that their experts’ theories of causation were “sufficiently reliable as being based on a sound, adequately founded scientific methodology, to wit, that they [were] based upon methods which experts in their field would reasonably rely in forming their own . . . opinions about the cause(s) of each of plaintiffs’ ovarian cancers.”

The court was ruling on the defendants’ motion to bar testimony of each of the plaintiff’s several expert witnesses. Along with the motions to bar, the defendants also filed motions for summary judgment anticipating his successful motion to bar the experts’ testimony. The motions were received by the court at a plenary hearing conducted pursuant to the standards articulated in a New Jersey case. Continue reading

Joseph Sondag was alleged in this lawsuit to have been exposed to asbestos dust from drywall tape manufactured by Tremco when he worked as a plasterer from 1957 to 1983. In 2007, he was diagnosed with pleural plaques and interstitial fibrosis.

At trial, Sondag’s treating physician, Dr. Al Rossi, testified that these conditions were probably caused by on-the-job exposure to asbestos. However, Dr. Rossi did not diagnose Sondag as suffering any symptoms from this condition.

According to Sondag’s wife, Phyllis, and their daughter, he suffered from shortness of breath. But he was an ex-smoker and was 82 when the case was tried. There was no expert testimony that the pleural plaques and interstitial fibrosis were symptomatic.

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A Chicago real estate developer, Perry Casalino, hired Ramon Gavina as a laborer to install wallpaper inside the entrance of a building at 1513 N. Western Ave. in Chicago. Gavia maintained that Casalino purchased materials and tools, instructed him as to how to perform the work and told him to climb up on a scaffold to hang the wallpaper.

When Gavina climbed on top of the scaffolding on Jan. 14, 2009, it collapsed. He fell to the ground and sustained a tibial plateau fracture in his knee.  The injury will require surgery as recommended by his orthopedic surgeon.

Gavina sued Casalino and his company. Casalino and, on behalf of his development company, denied that he was present at the time of the incident, denied that he owned the scaffolding and denied knowing the owner of the scaffold.

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On Jan. 17, 2011, Susan Buckel was at Villa Olivia, a ski hill in the far west Chicago suburban town of Bartlett, Ill. She had purchased a ticket to snow tube on a hill, but as she moved to sit down on the tube, a sharp object that was part of the tube implanted itself in the ground and caused her to come to a sudden stop.

While Buckel was stopped, another snow tube struck her from behind and injured her.  On Jan. 4, 2013, Buckel filed a lawsuit against Villa Olivia, Tube Pro Inc. “unknown snow tube manufacturer” and “unknown owners and non-record claimants.” Buckel later voluntarily dismissed Villa Olivia as a party defendant.

In the lawsuit, Buckel alleged that her tube was defective and that this defect caused it to suddenly stop on the hill, endangering her and proximately causing her injuries.  She alleged negligence against Tube Pro, claiming that it “negligently designed, manufactured, distributed and sold the snow tube equipment without appropriate safeguarding and an adequate warning label.”

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In July 2013, ALL Erection & Crane Rental Corp. of Independence, Ohio, leased a crane to White Construction of Clinton, Ind. The crane was a Manitowoc 2250 Crawler Crane.

In the summer of 2012, Kyle Carson was working for White Construction at a wind farm in Indiana where his employer had a contract to build wind turbines.

Carson worked primarily as a crane oiler, providing general maintenance on the crane and serving as the eyes and ears of Joe Dowell, the crane operator. On Sept. 20, 2012, Carson and Dowell were told to move the crane to a wind turbine platform several miles from where the crane started that day.

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James and Vanesha Doran and their daughter, Candice, attended a dinner following Candice’s college graduation ceremony. The dinner was held at Arbor Station Apartments. As James, Vanesha and Candice were standing on the second-floor balcony with Sandra Miles and other guests waiting to enter Candice’s apartment, the landing suddenly collapsed, causing the guests to fall about 20 feet to the pavement below.

James Doran, 43, suffered multiple fractures to both of his legs, including compound fractures to the left tibia and fibula and a fracture of his right femur. He underwent open reduction internal fixation surgery on the tibia and fibula fractures and was hospitalized for nearly a month, including 3 weeks of inpatient rehabilitation. He now walks with a cane. He incurred $156,200 in medical expenses and his future medical expenses are estimated to be about $105,800. Doran was a machinist and was unable to return to his job and is now permanently disabled. His past and future lost earnings are estimated to be more than $900,000.

James’s wife, Vanesha Doran, 43, sustained a right heel fracture, injuries to the right foot resulting in contracture of the middle toes at the joints, a tear to the right medial meniscus (right knee cartilage) and a lumbar herniated disk. She underwent surgeries to repair the meniscus tear and to implant a spinal nerve stimulator after nerve-block injections failed to relieve her lower back pain. She also developed complex regional pain syndrome in her lower back, resulting in chronic, debilitating pain. She now uses a wheelchair. Her past medical expenses totaled about $124,300. Her future medical expenses and life-care costs for what is expected to be a total knee replacement and to replace batteries in the stimulator were said to be estimated at around $4.23 million. She was a legal assistant at the time of the incident and is now permanently disabled. Her lost future earnings are estimated at over $800,000.

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