Defense Verdict for Brady O’Malley in Syracuse

Brady J. O’Malley secured a defense verdict after a six-day jury trial in Onondaga County Supreme Court before the Honorable Anthony J. Paris, J.S.C. The plaintiff, as administratix of her deceased husband’s estate, brought this wrongful death products liability action based on claims of design defect and breach of implied warranty of merchantability. The decedent, a 41-year old farm laborer and father of three, was killed in March 2014 while performing maintenance underneath a hoisted tank that was mounted to a hydraulic lift system attached to the chassis of truck owned by the farm. While performing maintenance, the decedent inadvertently leaned on a hydraulic control lever mounted to the frame of the truck, which caused the hydraulic lift to lower the tank onto him and inflict fatal injuries. The defendant was a self-insured fabricator/retrofitter of the manure spreader hydraulic lift and roll-off tank system involved in the accident. The plaintiff alleged that the system was defectively designed and unreasonably safe for its intended use because, among other allegations: (i) the control levers attached to the frame of the truck presented an unreasonable risk of inadvertent activation, (ii) the hydraulic lift did not make any warning sounds when activated, (iii) and the safety “prop rod” system installed on the manure tank was defective and failed to prevent the accident. The plaintiff alleged $1,200,000 in economic loss, as well as conscious pain and suffering on behalf of the decedent. After less than one hour of deliberations, the jury returned a unanimous verdict stating that the defendant was not negligent in its design of the product, and that the defendant did not breach an implied warranty of merchantability.