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Case Style: Qualls v. Case Corporation
Case Number: 95-CV-5516 IH
Court: United States District Court for the Central District of California
Plaintiff's Attorney: Lawrence R. Booth, Johnna J. Hansen and Donald J. Beck of Booth & Koskoff, Torrance, California
Defendant's Attorney: Unknown
Description: Products liability and negligence claims - Case model 580 loader/backhoe. Qualls was severely injured when a drink cooler was placed on top of some jackets which had been placed behind the operator's seat over the pedals that operate the backhoe boom. The boom activated the boom which struck Qualls. He sustained a ruptured aorta and nerve damage to his face and left arm. He was also paralyzed from the mid-chest down, rendering his a triplegic. Medical expenses totaled about $900,000 and will require fl-time care at an estimated lifetime cost of between $2.5 million and $13.5 million. Qualls alleged that the machine was defective and unreasonably dangerous in that it lacked a means to prevent inadvertent activation of the pedals which controlled the boom when it was unit was being used as a loader rather than a backhoe. Plaintiff also claimed that the operator's manual and decals on the machine were inadequate or inaccurate. Defendant claimed that plaintiff was not adequately trained and that he negligently placed himself in a dangerous location and negligently placed the water cooler on the pedals.
Outcome: Jury verdict for plaintiff for $23.57 million based upon a negligence theory with a finding that plaintiff was 2% at fault, defendant 49% at fault and plaintiff's employer 49% at fault.
Plaintiff's Experts: John Sevart, Wichita, Kansas, design engineer; Morris Farkas, Los Angeles, California, safety engineer; Gary Wonnacott, Malibu, California, operating engineer; Peter Formuzis, Irvine, California, economist; and Jan Rougha, Glendale, California, life care planner.
Defendant's Experts: Jim Bauer, Detroit, Michigan, design engineer; Charles Hanson, Burlington, Iowa, design engineer; Alan Dorris, Peachtree, Georgia, human factors engineer; Roger Wilson, San Francisco, California, operating engineer; and Charles Bredden, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, economist.
Comments: This case was reportedly settled for $12.6 million.