On August 10, 2017, a federal court jury in San Diego, California unanimously rejected Plaintiffs' claims in a product liability suit against Crown Equipment Corporation, a forklift manufacturer based in New Bremen, Ohio. John Maxa, former IADC executive committee member and longtime IADC member, is Senior Vice President of Crown and has been Crown’s General Counsel for more than 30 years.
After two days of deliberations, the jury voted 8-0 in favor of Crown and against Plaintiff Nathan Eisenbise and his wife Jennifer Eisenbise. The lawsuit was based on an accident that occurred in February 2013 at Costco in La Mesa, CA. On that day, a Costco employee drove a Crown standup rider forklift and struck Mr. Eisenbise, also a Costco employee and supervisor. Mr. Eisenbise suffered a below the knee amputation as a result of the accident.
Plaintiffs claimed that Crown’s forklift design was defective and caused the injury and that additional guarding of the forklift's steer tires were necessary. Crown defended against these allegations and countered by proving that the forklift's design was not a substantial factor in causing the injury and that the design of the steer tires did not cause Mr. Eisenbise’s injuries. Crown also put on evidence that its design was state of the art. Crown relied on its experts, John Johnson, PE, with Johnson Engineering Services in Salem, Oregon and Dr. Elizabeth Raphael, MD, with Delta V Biomechanics, Inc. in Palo Alto, California, as well as its Director of Product Safety, Ron Grisez from New Bremen, Ohio to prove its defense of the claims.
Plaintiffs sought approximately $6.5M in compensatory damages in closing arguments.
They were represented by Chris Workman and Aaron Sibley from Workman Law Trial Attorneys in San Diego, California.
Crown Equipment Corporation was represented by IADC members Michael Wiggins, a founding member and senior partner from McDonald Toole Wiggins, PA in Orlando, Florida, and Roger Perkins, a member from Clark Hill/Morris Polich & Purdy in San Diego, California. Both are Trial Academy faculty alumni, having served together in 2004 at Stanford as part of the “Bruce Almighties.”