. .

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



Philadelphia County, PA

The plaintiff alleged that a warehouse racking system, designed and manufactured by the defendant, Interlake Material Handling, Inc., was defectively designed in that it lacked adequate support to secure it to the floor and walls. As a result, the plaintiff alleged that the racking system collapsed and caused the plaintiff to be struck by thousands of pounds of frozen food product. The defendant denied that the racking system was defective and argued that additional supports were available for a more secure installation. The owner of the warehouse, installer of the racking system and two companies which performed maintenance on the racking system settled the plaintiff’s claims for a total of $3.4 million prior to the first trial in ________. The ________ trial resulted in a $10.4 million verdict. The defendant, Interlake, appealed and was granted a new trial on damages and to assert its cross-claims.

The plaintiff was a 37-year-old male who was employed as a forklift operator for a food distributor which used space in a frozen food warehouse. The plaintiff testified that he was driving the forklift when it became lodged on the racking system used for storage of product. The plaintiff contended that the leg of the racking system bent and the plaintiff exited the forklift to obtain assistance. However, the racking system collapsed, sending thousands of pounds of boxed product falling down on top of the plaintiff.

During the first trial, the plaintiff’s mechanical engineer testified that the racking system was defectively designed by the defendant so that it included only one bracket to attach it to the floor of the warehouse with a single bolt. In light of the size of the racking system and the weight of the product stored on it, the plaintiff’s engineer opined that the racking system required at least two and preferably three bolts to safely secure it to the floor. The plaintiff also argued that it was foreseeable that the bolt securing the racking system to the floor would be sheared off as a result of the constant use of forklifts in the enclosed freezer space. The jury found the racking system defective during the first trial. The jury during this second trial was not required to evaluate product defect issues. However, the defendant, Interlake, read into evidence all of the testimony of the plaintiff’s mechanical engineer in an effort to support its cross-claims.

The plaintiff sustained four fractured vertebrae in his lumbar spine as a result of the accident. He suffered permanent spinal cord damage which rendered him paraplegic and incapable of ambulation. The plaintiff has also lost bowel and bladder function, is totally disabled from employment and requires daily nursing assistance, according to evidence offered. The plaintiff claimed approximately $4.5 million in past and future medical expenses and approximately $1.5 million in past and future loss of wages.

The defendant, during the first trial, argued that the racking system was safe, as designed, for its intended use. The defense argued that there was an optional attachment available for purchase which would allow additional bolts for securing the racking system to the floor. During this second trial, the defendant contended that the rack was improperly installed and maintained by the settling co-defendants.

The jury found for the plaintiff in the amount of $________ against the defendant, Interlake Material Handling, Inc. It assessed no liability against the co-defendants on the cross- claims. The plaintiff has filed for pre-judgment interest of approximately $5 million, increasing the verdict to over $17 million. The defendant’s post-trial motions are pending.

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.