A jury in Washington state awarded a Texas resident $19.19 million for life-altering injuries he suffered after falling 25 feet in an attempt to escape the basket of a defectively designed Genie boom lift.
Jurors found Genie Industries Inc., owned by Terex (NYSE: TEX), liable for faulty design and defective operating mechanisms of the trailer-mounted boom lift used by Jason McNeal, 43, of Silsbee, Texas, who was injured. The jury deliberated for a day and a half before returning its verdict in the King County Superior Court.
On Dec. 27, 2016, Mr. McNeal was in the Genie boom basket 25 feet in the air, trimming trees in his backyard when a limb fell, hitting the base of the work platform. By design, this activated a “kill switch” that made the basket’s operator controls inoperable.
Trapped in the air with no one to call for assistance, Mr. McNeal had no option but to climb out of the basket. As a result, he fell from the towering structure to the ground, injuring both legs. Mr. McNeal’s injuries were so extensive that he needed several surgeries and may require amputation.
“It is clear Genie Industries knew about this defect but failed to design it out before putting it on the market,” said Edward Fisher, Mr. McNeal’s attorney and Provost Umphrey Law Firm partner in Beaumont, Texas. “This was a horrifying situation, and we are pleased to be able to recover some relief that will go toward helping Mr. McNeal and his family during this difficult time.”
In discussions prior to trial, Genie Industries offered no money to settle the case.
While this accident happened in Hardin County, Texas, Mr. Fisher chose to try the case in King County, Washington, where Genie Industries is headquartered. Genie Industries manufactures aerial work platforms and boom lifts for its customers, marketing them as safe to use.
Assisting Mr. Fisher in the case were attorneys Patricia Anderson and David Beninger of the Luvera Law Firm in Seattle.
The case is Jason McNeal and Heather McNeal v. Genie Industries, Inc., Case No. 17-2-26319-2 SEA in Superior Court of Washington for King County, Judge Veronica Alicea Galván presiding.
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