$1,519,823 :: Rodriguez v. Anderson Hydraulics

JURY VERDICT: Plaintiff’s hand crushed in concrete block making machine

On June 21, 1996, a 38-year-old employee of the Angelus Block Company fell victim to a disastrous accident. The man had been employed by the company for 16 years and regularly worked on the company’s heavy equipment. On that auspicious day, he was removing small rocks and debris from a machine that created concrete blocks when the machine abruptly slammed down and crushed his hand.

The injuries to the worker’s hand were severe and required extensive hospitalization. He underwent four surgeries yet ultimately the man’s left hand was rendered useless. He hired Roger E. Booth and Richard B. Koskoff of The Law Offices of Booth & Koskoff to represent him in a lawsuit against his employer, the machine’s manufacturer, and the company who refurbished the machine.

The block-making machine was originally manufactured by the Columbia Machine Company and had recently been refurbished by Anderson Hydraulics. The plaintiff team primarily argued that when Anderson Hydraulic refurbished the machine, they used seals which were too small and thus prevented the machine’s hydraulic mechanism from securely holding the equipment’s upper weight. The Anderson Hydraulics had been the only one to refurbish this machine’s cylinders and this was, in fact, the very first use of the machine since it came back from Anderson Hydraulics.

During the trial, Anderson Hydraulics diverted responsibility for the accident to both the worker’s employer and the equipment’s manufacturer. The defendant argued that the manufacturer should have equipped the machine with a fail-safe device to activate in the event of a hydraulic failure and that the employer should have required the plaintiff to block up the machine before reaching into it as recommended by the machine’s operating manual. They furthermore argued that the defective cylinder may not have been refurbished by their team.

This case went to trial where the jury ultimately ruled in favor of the plaintiff. They awarded the plaintiff $1,551,223 gross, $1,519,823 net. The defendants initially filed a motion for new trial but later settled for $1,200,000 before hearings on motions.

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