Two contractors from Fairborn Equipment Company of Illinois were installing the gate assembly for a vertical lift at the Ferrara Pan Candy Co. on November 3, 2009. During the installation, the gate assembly tipped over and fell on one of the installers. The other installer attempted to grab the gate assembly to stop it from falling on his coworker, but was instead lifted off the ground as the gate fell. Both men suffered severe injuries in the accident that would require extensive medical care.
The first installer, a 48-year-old man, sustained multiple pelvic fractures when the gate assembly fell on him. As a result, he was hospitalized and underwent pelvic reconstruction surgery. He spent a week in the hospital, followed by a week in rehabilitation and several months of physical therapy. Because of his injuries, he was out of work for two years. Although he was eventually able to return to work, he was only able to return to a different line of work with lower earnings. He is unable to do heavy labor, and he still struggles with some pelvic and back pain. However, even though some long-term symptoms remain, he made an incredible recovery from his severe pelvic injuries, and his doctors do not expect that he will need further treatment in the future.
The 33-year-old installer suffered a left shoulder injury as he grabbed the falling assembly, for which he underwent three arthroscopic surgeries. He was out of work for five months, and also lost time at work as he recovered from each of the three surgeries. Although he was also unable continue doing heavy labor as he had before, he was able to return to the same employer in a lighter-duty position. Unfortunately, he still suffers from shoulder pain, and his doctors believe that he is likely to need a shoulder replacement in the future.
Questions About Instructions and Warnings Included With Gate Assembly
After the incident, both men believed that the gate assembly, manufactured by Pflow Industries, Inc., was unreasonably dangerous because the installation instructions did not contain adequate instructions and warnings for preventing it from falling over. The two men sought the help of Lane & Lane, LLC, where Partner Mark Brown took on their case. While several other parties named in the case settled earlier on, the case against the manufacturer, Pflow Industries, Inc., would continue over several years of difficult litigation.
Hotly Contested Trial Ends With $2.32 Million Verdict
Over five years of litigation, Pflow Industries denied any liability for the accident and argued that:
- The instructions and warnings included with the product were appropriate.
- The installers’ injuries were not as bad as they said.
Pflow Industries made no settlement offer during those five years and also cancelled a mediation session scheduled shortly before the trial.
At the start of the trial, the company did make a nominal offer, but it was not nearly enough to compensate the two men for all the losses and expenses they had suffered. The trial proceeded over more than two weeks, and it was hotly contested and hard-fought on every level. Each side had multiple experts, and Lane & Lane Partners Mark Brown and Scott Lane presented strong arguments on behalf of their clients.
Ultimately, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the installers and against Pflow Industries for $2.32 million. After the verdict was announced, Partner Mark Brown said, “It was a difficult case that took many years to prepare for trial, and we are pleased to have obtained this verdict on behalf of our clients.” Partner Scott Lane added, “Our clients truly deserve this verdict. It has been an honor and privilege to represent them.”
To learn more about Partners Mark Brown and Scott Lane, you can visit our bios or contact Lane & Lane directly at .
Awarded: $2.32 million