. .

Invest in your success.
JVRA helps lawyers win cases by providing critical information you can use to establish precedent, determine demand and win arguments.

ARTICLE ID 32733

$________ - PRODUCTS LIABILITY - EXERCISE EQUIPMENT DEFECT - DEFECTIVE MANUFACTURING OF WEIGHT LIFTING EQUIPMENT USED AT CODEFENDANT HEALTH CLUB - HEALTH CLUB NEGLIGENCE - FAILURE OF HEALTH CLUB TO FOLLOW MANUFACTURER'S MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE - PIN DETACHES FROM BAR SET AT ________ LBS. CAUSING BAR TO FALL AND STRIKE SKULL AND NECK APPROXIMATELY ONE MONTH AFTER EQUIPMENT WAS PUT INTO USE - FALLING OBJECT - CERVICAL HERNIATIONS - CERVICAL LAMINECTOMY AND 3-LEVEL CERVICAL FUSION SURGERY - INABILITY TO CONTINUE ACTIVE LIFESTYLE.

Essex County

In this action, the male plaintiff health club patron, approximately age 40 at the time, maintained that he was using weight lifting equipment which was manufactured by the defendant and delivered approximately one month earlier to the codefendant health club. The plaintiff contended that the "lat pull-down" was defectively manufactured because the bolt containing the locking pin was only tightened by hand, not by wrench, subjecting this important pin to detachment upon normal use.

The plaintiff, who was pulling down the bar, which was set at ________ lbs., from a seated position to build up the latissimus muscles in the back, contended that as he was engaged in the third of three sets of ten repetitions, the bolt disengaged from the weight stack, resulting in the bar glancing off his skull and striking the back of his neck with great force. The plaintiff contended that he suffered a cervical herniation which was confirmed by MRI and which dictated a laminectomy and fusion two years later after conservative treatment proved inadequate.

The plaintiff contended that despite the surgery, he will permanently suffer pain and extensive restriction and will be forced to lead a much more sedentary life. The plaintiff, who works as an administrator in a home for troubled youths, missed 12 weeks from work after the surgery and was thereafter able to return to the job, which duties were generally limited to administrative matters.

The plaintiff testified that he had extensive, long-term experience as a weight lifter. The plaintiff related that as he was completing his two-hour work out and was pulling down the "lat" bar from a seated position, the incident occurred and he was suddenly struck. The plaintiff’s expert industrial engineer maintained that the subject machine was defectively manufactured because the bolt securing the pin was only hand tightened, resulting in the vibrations from the machine causing the failure approximately one month after it was delivered to the club.

The defendant manufacturer contended that the bolt was, in fact, tightened by a wrench. The plaintiff countered that in his deposition, the president of the defendant manufacturer had indicated that the bolts are tightened by hand. The defendant manufacturer argued that the questioning of the president during his deposition did not adequately probe into the assembly procedures. The plaintiff argued that the deposition clearly and specifically delved into such issues and maintained that the defendant’s position should be rejected.

The plaintiff related that after the incident occurred, two club employees came to his assistance and that the incident report filled out by one the employees, the manager, largely supported his contentions.

The report did not, however, reflect that the pin suddenly detached and was silent as to the cause of the failure. The defendants maintained that it was likely that the plaintiff failed to properly insert the pin to a sufficient depth, resulting in the incident occurring. The plaintiff countered that the manager who filled out the report recalled that the defendant’s maintenance worker was called to the scene, hand-tightened a part on the equipment, and placed it back into service.

The plaintiff argued that this evidence strongly supported his position as to the manner in which the incident occurred and ruled out the possibility that the pin itself had become stripped, causing the incident.

The plaintiff additionally contended that the codefendant health club negligently failed to follow the maintenance schedule provided by the defendant manufacturer, which called for the subject machine to be maintained on a weekly basis. The codefendant club could not locate the sole equipment maintenance worker and could not produce at deposition any other employee to testify as to maintenance and repair procedures and the Court issued a pretrial order precluding the club from presenting any evidence on such issues. The plaintiff argued that if the club had followed the recommended maintenance schedule, the incident would not have occurred. The plaintiff further argued, however, that in view of the fact that the accident occurred within a month of delivery of the machine, it was also clear that the machine should not have failed irrespective of a lack of maintenance by the club. The plaintiff played a videotape of the actual machine in use and produced a portion of an exemplar machine in court, including the parts at issue. The plaintiff argued that the jury could well determine from this evidence the manner in which an untightened bolt would loosen from the very substantial vibrations created during normal use of the machine.

The plaintiff maintained that he sustained herniations at C-4,C-5 and C-5,C-6 which were confirmed by MRI. The plaintiff related that he underwent a conservative course of therapy with the use over-the-counter medication, but that the pain continued to grow worse. The plaintiff related that after two years, it became apparent that he would require surgery and the plaintiff’s neurosurgeon performed a cervical laminectomy and three-level cervical fusion. The physician utilized medical illustrations to describe the surgery and difficulties encountered as was cutting through muscle tissue. The physician related that the plaintiff has been left with significant restriction of motion as well as pain and continues to require over-the-counter pain medication. The plaintiff related that he missed 12 weeks from his job as an administrator in a home for troubled youths, but was able to return, indicating that his duties are not physical in nature.

The plaintiff related that he has been athletically oriented his entire life and maintained that he has now been forced to lead a relatively sedentary life, notwithstanding that he can engage in most non-strenuous activities of daily living. The plaintiff indicated that in addition to giving up weight lifting, he has also been forced to cease a favored activity of landscape gardening. The plaintiff also related that he had recently begun to ski and was planning on taking up horseback riding in the very near future. The plaintiff, whose children were age 3 and age 4 at the time of the incident and age 6 and age 7 at trial, contended that he had greatly anticipated reliving his childhood with his son and daughter and has now been relegated to a "camera dad." The plaintiff argued that the jury could well determine that the loss of enjoyment of life was extensive.

The jury found the manufacturer 50% liable, the health club 50% liable and awarded $________.

To read the full article, please login to your account or purchase

5 ways to win with JVRA

JVRA gives you jurisdiction-specific, year-round insight into the strategies, arguments and tactics that win. Successful attorneys come to the table prepared and use JVRA to:

  1. Determine if a case is winnable and recovery amounts.
  2. Determine reasonable demand for a case early on.
  3. Support a settlement demand by establishing precedent.
  4. Research trial strategies, tactics and arguments.
  5. Defeat or support post-trial motions through past case histories.

Try JVRA for a day or a month, or sign up for our deluxe Litigation Support Plan and put the intelligence of JVRA to work for all of your clients. See our subscription plans.