Howard F. Strongin Obtains Unanimous Defense Verdict In New York Products Liability Case

Howard F. Strongin obtained a unanimous defense verdict on behalf of his clients TCM Manufacturing USA, Inc., Mitsui Machinery Distribution, Inc. and Acculift, Inc. from a New York State Supreme Court, Queens County jury after a 2 week bifurcated trial.

Plaintiff, a 44 year old warehouseman and forklift operator, sustained a near traumatic amputation of his right leg when he was struck by a TCM forklift. He asserted causes of action sounding in strict products liability, breach of implied warranty for a particular purpose, and negligent inspection and testing of the forklift. Specifically, it was claimed that the forklift’s hand operated park brake failed in that it was capable of being placed in a “false brake” position. Among other things, plaintiff’s expert opined that the hand brake was capable of being pulled back and released without retracting to the “off” position; thereby giving the operator the false impression that the brake was actually engaged. As a result, it was alleged, a slight jolt or jarring of the forklift would disengage the brake allowing the forklift to move.

The defendants were successful in proving that this accident was caused by the fault of no one but the plaintiff. The defense demonstrated through expert testimony that included a detailed accident reconstruction analysis, the testimony of technical and fact witnesses, and the introduction of product literature, that the plaintiff failed to apply the park brake, that he failed to follow accepted forklift safety procedures when he parked the forklift on a slope, and that he failed to lower the forks to the ground and tilt the forklift mast forward. It was also proven that the forklift was properly tested and inspected.

Damages were not before the jury as the plaintiff did not prevail on any of his theories.