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ARTICLE ID 43835

$________ Strict liability - Failure to have larger mirrors to permit better vision surrounding machine - Wrongful death - The decedent is run over by forklift and killed.

U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia

The plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s forklift was defectively and dangerous designed in that it did not have adequate mirrors to give the operator full view surrounding the vehicle. The defendant denied liability.

The male plaintiff was employed on a construction project at the Georgia Power Plant facility in Cartersville, Georgia. On May 29, ________ the plaintiff was assisting another employee in off-loading steel. The other employee was operating an all-wheel-drive forklift manufactured by the defendant, Terex Corporation. The decedent was on the ground guiding the steel off the forklift. The driver of the forklift lost sight of the plaintiff’s decedent and then realized that he had run him over, crushing him. The decedent was transported to the hospital but died shortly thereafter from severe head injuries.

The plaintiff brought suit against the manufacturer, alleging that the mirror located inside the forklift was inadequate to provide the operator with a full field of vision. The plaintiff alleged that the forklift in question, a Square Shooter all-wheel-drive forklift, had arms that extended 36 feet out when fully spread, considerably limiting the operator’s field of vision to anyone standing around the outside of the lift.

The defendant maintained that the hazards of operating such a forklift were open and obvious. The defendant disputed that the machine was dangerous or defective in any way and disputed that it had any duty to warn. The defendant maintained that the plaintiff’s decedent was negligent in failing to be cautious while around the moving forklift. The defendant maintained that the decedent was responsible for his own death.

At the conclusion of the trial, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff on the issue of negligence, however it found for the defendant on the issue of strict liability and failure to warn. The jury awarded the plaintiff the sum of $________ in damages on the negligence claim which consisted of $________ in medical expenses, $________ for funeral expenses, $________ for conscious pain and suffering and $________ for damages to the life of the deceased.

The defendant filed post trial motions for a new trial, alleging that the jury must have found the plaintiff 70% at fault since it awarded the plaintiff only 30% of the requested special damages. Under Georgia law, if the plaintiff is more than 50% at fault, there is no recovery to the plaintiff. The trial judge granted the application and entered a judgment, notwithstanding the verdict in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff has appealed.

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