$1,000,000 :: Hutchison

SETTLEMENT : Winch device failed seriously injuring ironworker

On June 25, 1991, a 43-year-old ironworker was using a device described as a Come-A-Long to assist his fellow coworkers in the lowering of a heavy object. However, the Come-A-Long failed during the course of this maneuver and caused serious injuries to the ironworker’s lower back.

The ironworker would later need to undergo two extensive back surgeries, including a first fusion which unfortunately did not take. He was facing a permanent loss of earnings between $40,000 and $60,000 a year, in addition to a $240,000 workers’ compensation lien on medical and disability payments, when he retained the services of Lawrence R. Booth and Donald J. Beck to represent him in a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturers of the Come-A-Long.

The Plaintiffs argued that the Come-A-Long ought to have had a gauge to measure whether the device was being overloaded, as well as a warning device known in the industry as a shear pin and that the failure to have such a precautionary device constituted as product liability. The Plaintiffs pointed to the manufacturer’s later models, which had both measuring gauges and divided the load between two separate gears to minimize the risk of bushing failure, as evidence that the manufacturer knew the danger in the older design.

Ultimately, the lawsuit was settled out of court for a total of $1,000,000 with the assistance of Paul Fritz of Creative Dispute Resolutions out of Santa Barbara.

Article [PDF]