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Philadelphia County, PA

The plaintiff was working to transport a ________-pound slab of granite for use in home remodeling/construction, when the rock fell on him and crushed his spine. The plaintiff brought suit against the manufacturer of a table used to work on decorative stone, and two distributors of the table. The plaintiff alleging that the product was defective in that it lacked an adequate means to secure the stone to the table and lacked appropriate warnings. The plaintiff also included claims of breach of warranty and negligence. The defendants argued that the plaintiff was comparatively negligent in placing himself in a dangerous location during the transport. The plaintiff’s company, which did not carry worker’s compensation insurance, was joined as a third-party defendant in the case.

The product at issue was a slab rocker table manufactured by the defendant Leitch & Company, Inc., for the purpose of moving large pieces of stone from a vertical to horizontal position. On March 24, ________, the plaintiff was using the table in his workshop to receive a large slab of granite from a fork lift. The plaintiff tilted the rocker table to a 90 degree angle to receive the stone. When the stone was placed on the table, the plaintiff claimed that the table tilted further forward causing the slab of granite to fall forward and land on the plaintiff.

The plaintiff claimed that the defendants sold the rocker table without the required mobile A-frame which was necessary for safe transfer of large pieces of stone. As a result, the heavy stone was not adequately secured to the table, according to the plaintiff’s claims. The plaintiff also contended that the defendants failed to provide adequate instructions or warnings concerning use of the table.

The plaintiff, age 34 at the time of injury, was the co-owner of a company which finished marble and granite for kitchen and bathroom remodeling and construction. He was diagnosed with a crush injury to his spine, bilateral rib fractures and neurogenic bowel and bladder injuries as a result of the incident. The plaintiff has been left with permanent paraplegia, as well as bowel incontinence.

The defendant argued that the plaintiff was an experienced user of the slab rocker table and was well aware of the danger of placing himself between the forklift and the granite slab while it was being moved.The case was settled for a total of $7 million prior to trial. The defendant manufacturer tendered a $1 million liability insurance policy limit. The defendant distributor, which shipped the rocker table from California, paid a $4 million policy limit and the defendant distributor, which sold the machine to the plaintiff’s company, contributed its $2 million policy limit to the settlement.

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