Sunday, April 5, 2020

In November 2016, a jury in Philadelphia, PA returned a $15 million verdict to a 42 year-old laborer injured by a hydraulic shear.  The case is Reyes v. Cincinnati, Inc., Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Case No. No: 3744.  The trial judge was Judge Daniel P. Anders.

Juries are fact finders.  In personal injury cases, the jury finds the facts and applies them to the relevant statute, cases, or law as the judge instructs to use to reach its verdict. 

Cincinnati Incorporated manufactured the shear at Aggregates Equipment in Leola, PA. The worker used the shear to cut large pieces of metal. The evidence showed that the shear did not have a guard at the point of operation.  The manufacturer knew or should have known about the lack of protection.

In this shear injury case, the plaintiff’s dominant hand was crushed on October 11, 2012. The case not only was categorized as a personal injury, but also a products liability.  Products liability may fall under five theories:  strict products liability, negligence, intent, representation, or implied warranties.

According to the plaintiff’s attorney as reported by The National Trial Lawyer:  “The manufacturer’s technician was on the job site to service the shear a few years before this accident and he neglected to inform the owner about the hazard. After the accident, the shop owner immediately purchased the guard from the manufacturer when he learned it was missing. Unfortunately, it was too late for my client’s sake. He paid the price of this neglect.”

After the accident, the plaintiff was not able to go back to his former job because he lost most of the use of his hand.  Today, the plaintiff suffers from constant tremors and severe pain in his hand.  A lawsuit like the plaintiff’s case usually requires expert witnesses to testify on the extent of an injured person’s medical damages.  According to the plaintiff’s attorney: “The shear not only crushed his hand, but also his dreams.”

The lawsuit was filed July 2014 and the trial was scheduled to begin on November 14, 2016. The court system is slow and there are many motions, discovery, and pre-trial procedures for a plaintiff to go through before the day a case gets to court.  To recover the full extent of damages, a plaintiff may have no choice but to engage in a lengthy legal process.

The plaintiff in this article waited over two years for a jury to find all four of the plaintiff’s claims in his favor.  The verdict is the decision of the jurors and becomes a judgment after the court reviews.  Once a judgment is given, the plaintiff may enforce the award through a debtor’s exam to investigate the defendants’ assets for payment.  On November 18, 2016, the jury rejected the manufacturer’s affirmative defenses.


Read the article here.