IADC members Michael Correnti, a partner with McDonald Toole Wiggins, P.A. and Michael J. Wiggins, founding member and senior partner of McDonald Toole Wiggins, P.A., obtained a complete defense verdict on Monday, April 24, 2023 in favor of Crown Equipment Corporation, a forklift designer and manufacturer based in New Bremen, Ohio.
The lawsuit involved a July 18, 2016 warehouse accident. Plaintiff, Richard Smith, was operating a Crown RC5500 stand-up rider lift truck as part of his employment with Foot Locker in Junction City, Kansas. Because Plaintiff stuck his foot outside of the operator compartment of the RC5500 prior to striking a building column, he sustained a left leg crush injury that eventually resulted in a below-the-knee amputation. Plaintiff asserted a Strict Liability claim against Crown claiming the RC5500 was defective in design because it had an open compartment and was not enclosed with an operator compartment door. Crown put on evidence to show the RC5500 was not defective. Crown’s attorney, Michael Correnti, argued in closing arguments that the evidence clearly showed this accident was about a misused truck, not a defective truck. Crown also presented evidence that Plaintiff attempted to exit the operator compartment of the RC5500 prior to impact in violation of his training and Crown’s warnings. This directly contradicted Plaintiff’s uncorroborated claim that the braking forces caused his leg to come outside of the operator compartment.
After six days of trial, Plaintiff asked the jury to award $30 million in damages based upon past medical expenses, future medical expenses, and pain and suffering. The jury took only 45 minutes to return a complete defense verdict for Crown after finding the RC5500 was not defective in design.