Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Attorneys Obtain Defense Verdict in High-Stakes Product Liability CaseSwanson, Martin & Bell, LLP attorneys obtained a defense verdict for crane manufacturer Terex USA, LLC following a month-long jury trial in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.
Plaintiff Rudolph Das asked the jury for between $38 million and $48 million in compensatory damages, and as much as $200 million in punitive damages for a total of over $248 million.
Das alleged that two U-bolts securing a steel bracket to a 2,000-pound accessory jib that was stowed alongside the boom of a Terex rough terrain crane fractured and allowed the accessory jib to fall and crush him. Das, who was working as a civil engineer for K&S Engineering, contended that the bolts were insufficient in strength and type and that the jib stowage system was unreasonably dangerous in design. Das also asserted a number of failure to warn claims. Specifically, he claimed that Terex owed a duty to warn about the propensity of the U-bolts to break and the jib to fall following several “other incidents.” The plaintiff alleged Terex was guilty of willful and wanton misconduct in not issuing a warning after learning of other incidents in mid-2013 and before the plaintiff’s accident on December 1, 2014.
Das suffered a traumatic brain injury resulting in a multi-week coma, as well as catastrophic orthopedic injuries to his face, spine, hips, knees, and lower extremities.
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP attorneys on behalf of Terex, contended that the subject jib stowage assembly system was a safe and reliable design that had been successfully used in the field on over 10,000 cranes for over 27 years. The U-bolts fractured due to high-cycle fatigue because K&S Engineering and its crane subcontractor, Imperial Crane Services, Inc., were using the crane in an unforeseeable manner. Terex maintained that none of the other incidents were substantially similar and that its investigation into those incidents demonstrated thoughtful, commendable, and responsible corporate conduct – not willful and wanton misconduct. Terex argued that the sole proximate cause was the misconduct of K&S Engineers and Imperial Crane.
According to lead trial counsel and Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP partner Anthony J. Monaco, “Over the past five years I became so personally invested in this matter because I truly believed that the crane was safely designed. The false accusations of willful and wanton misconduct could not go unanswered. Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP has built a national reputation for trying some of the highest exposure cases in some of the most difficult jurisdictions in the country. I am honored to be part of a firm that so strongly believes in the jury trial. Despite what is often heard in the media and the boardrooms across corporate America, juries work hard to arrive at the correct and a just result. I am thrilled that despite the odds and incredible sympathy involved in this case, our client Terex was willing to see this case through to verdict.
According to a Terex statement, “Terex is committed to safety – whether you work for us, supply us, use our equipment, or receive our services. Terex is proud and honored that the citizens of Cook County, after having heard the facts and evidence, found that the accusations of product defect and reckless conduct were untrue.”
In addition to Monaco, Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP’s defense team included partners Michael A. McCaskey and Patrick P. Clyder, as well as associates David J. Welch, Nicole E. O’Toole, Joseph D. D. Sweeny, and Edward J. Keating.
Various publications wrote about this result, including the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Law360 and Cook County Record.