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Case Style: Natalie Barnhard v. Cybex International, Inc. and Amherst Orthopedic Physical Therapy
Court: Supreme Court, Erie County, New York
Plaintiff's Attorney: Kevin English and Michael Law, Phillips Lytle, L.L.P., Buffalo, New York
Description: Natalie Barnhard, age 30, sued Cybex International and Amherst Orthopedic Physical Therapy on negligence theories for the injuries that she sustained in an accident that occurred at Amherst Orthopedic's offices in Buffalo, New York in October of 2004 that paralyzed her. Plaintiff was working as a physical therapist when a Cybex exercise machine fell on her breaking two cervical vertebrae and compressing her spinal cord.
Plaintiff was doing a shoulder stretch and had her hand on top of a leg extension machine. It fell on her when she stretched back with her shoulder and arm. She claimed that it took four people to life the 500-pound machine off of her.
Plaintiff claimed that Cybex, the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial exercise equipment, sold a defectively designed and unstable product and failed to give adequate warnings and instructions in that it issued conflicting instructions regarding the installation and anchoring requirements for this machine. The jury also found that Cybex failed to give notice or warning of the tip-over hazard after receiving notice of others being injured on similar Cybex products.
Cybex asserted that equipment had been in continuous operation for over 25 years in the same facility as Ms. Barnhard was injured to the current date, with no incidents reported other than this one event. We strongly believe that CYBEX was not negligent and is in no way responsible for this tragic accident.
Outcome: Plaintiff's verdict for $66 million with a finding that Cybex was 75 percent at fault and Amherst Orthopedic 20 percent responsible. Under New York law, CYBEX would be responsible for 95% of the verdict but may collect 20% of the verdict from Amherst Orthopedic.