Defense Verdict in a Products Liability Case
Dean Murtagh and Jacob Lehman obtained a defense verdict on behalf of their client, an international manufacturer of agricultural equipment, after a three-week jury trial in Philadelphia.
The trial centered on a 2015 accident where the plaintiff, a laborer, was injured when an agricultural utility tractor he was attempting to hotwire-start ran over and crushed his foot. The plaintiff underwent several surgeries and complained of an ongoing diagnosis of reflex sympathetic dystrophy/complex regional pain syndrome that would require amputation of his leg. He also suffered from a severe cervical myelopathy that he said was related to the accident. The plaintiff claimed the tractor was defective in its design because it did not incorporate a certain safety device present on smaller lawnmower type machines. Through Mr. Murtagh and Mr. Lehman’s presentation the manufacturer contended that the product was safe and useful; that the proposed “alternative design” did not make this machine safer and instead made it more dangerous and less useful in other applications; and, that the true cause of the accident was the alteration of the product pre-accident together with the plaintiff’s misuse. The demand prior to trial was 18.5 million dollars.