Defended Equipment Manufacturer in a Product Liability Case Stemming From a Fatality

The plaintiff had purchased a track loader from our client, a Japanese equipment manufacturer. The plaintiff then attached a rotary mower, which had been purchased from another supplier, onto the track loader and attempted to mow a neighbor’s farm where a man-made pond existed. The plaintiff rode the newly-modified vehicle onto the dam, or berm, of the pond, the ground gave way under the vehicle’s weight, and the vehicle and its occupant overturned into the pond. The operator was killed, and a product liability suit was filed by his family. Working with mechanical engineers, we determined that the operator had been using the track loader in a manner inconsistent with the operating manual and subsequently developed incontrovertible evidence the product was free of any defects. We eventually negotiated a settlement favorable to our client.