Unsafe Products Case Results
$817,500 – Premises Liability/Workers’ Compensation
$817,500 was awarded to a 63-year-old man during the course of his employment as a driver for the Benjamin Moore Paint company. He was working on completing his pre-drive inspection of his 18-wheel tractor-trailer with typical weather for a winter day; it had snowed in the days prior and a refreeze had occurred in the parking lot in which he was working. The client was in the process of walking back to make sure the tractor-trailer was secure when, all of a sudden, his feet slipped from under him and he fell forward. He landed hard on his knees, chest, shoulder and face.
The injuries sustained were facial lacerations, a broken nose, ruptured bicep, torn rotator cuff, and sprains to both of his knees. After surgery, he received medical treatment for approximately 18 months and was deemed medically disabled from returning to his job.
The Defense in this case argued against Christopher DiGirolamo’s client that they had plowed the area before the precipitation that day, that he was aware that there was snow and ice in the area, that they had proof there were other drivers exposed to the same conditions and hadn’t fallen, and that he was medically stable aside from being disabled from his job and had a great recovery. DiGirolamo took on the case after receiving all details and a conclusion was met: The case was settled with all three Defendants, the property owner, snow removal company, and the company the Plaintiff was delivering paint for. It was settled for an outstanding $817,500.
$3,350,000 • Unsafe Product
At the age of nineteen, Aris was bright, healthy and energetic. She was also five months pregnant and the mother of a three year old daughter. In the spring of 1999 she made a bold and courageous decision to travel to the United States with all the money she had in the world (a $5,000.00 cash award from the Hurricane George Disaster Relief Fund) in order to build a better life for her young family.
On May 14, 1999, Aris traveled from her hometown in Puerto Rico to JFK Airport where she was to be picked up by family friends to take her by car to the home of an uncle in Syracuse, New York. Her intent was to become fluent in English, complete her education and develop a career. More importantly, she desired to educate her children here in an English language based school system.
In the late evening of May 14, 1999, Aris and her daughter, Samaris, arrived at JFK. A family friend picked them up in his 1980 sedan.
While traveling to Syracuse along Route 80 at a speed estimated between 55 and 65 mph, the Toyota was rear-ended by another private passenger vehicle traveling at approximately 85 mph. As a direct consequence of the placement of the fuel tank location between the rear axle and the rear bumper, unprotected and within the crush zone, the rear of the vehicle literally exploded in flames. The fire starting in the trunk area, fueled by the gasoline and luggage, burned through the rear seat and seat back and into the occupant area of the car engulfing mother and daughter in a growing inferno
Aris suffered physically and psychologically crippling burn injuries. She lost the son that she was carrying. Most horribly, she saw her daughter removed from the inferno severely burned bleeding, and crying out, “Mommy, I am going to die” as her small body became lifeless. Fortunately her daughter was eventually revived but in the aftermath this young mother witnessed the horrific shattering of the young life of her once beautiful and bright three year old, Samaris. Her daughter is now severely brain injured due to hypoxia and shrouded in a mask of dense scars that will never be removed. Because of a potential for conflict of interest, Samaris’ claim was represented by another law firm and settled under satisfactory terms based on joint efforts.
To understand why the inferno occurred, MD&L placed focus on the calculated executive decisions of the Defendant Car Manufacturer that took place before Aris was ever born.
According to their own documents, as far back as the 1960’s, the Defendants were aware of the dangerously high probability of fuel fed fires on rear-end impact that a behind the rear axle fuel tank design caused. Despite a wealth of information regarding this danger and despite patented alternative designs actually held by the Defendants, they released the 1980 sedan into the marketplace with a fuel tank situated behind the rear bumper, unprotected and within the typical crush zone for rear-end impacts. MD&L demonstrated that the evidences that with knowledge of this unreasonably dangerous design, and the substantial likelihood of catastrophic injury by fire to occupants, in order to protect sales in offering a vehicle with larger cargo space, the Defendants sold this design. The defendants purposely did not disclose the data of the design defect to the public and intentionally did not give any warning to the buyer of the grave danger of fuel fed fires on rear-end impact.
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