In 2017, a young man working for a city was crushed by a faulty piece of heavy equipment. We represented him and worked his case to a very good resolution.
Justin Hill: Welcome to Hill Law Firm Cases, a podcast discussing real-world cases handled by Justin Hill in the Hill Law Firm. For confidentiality reasons, names and amounts of any settlements have been removed. However, the facts are real and these are the cases we handle on a day to day basis.
Justin Hill: A few years ago, I had the distinct honor and privilege of representing a young man who I’ve known almost my whole life. He’s somebody I grew up with. He’s somebody I’ve known. Our parents have even worked together. He’s somebody that whenever we got out of high school, stayed home, hard worker, blue-collar man. He worked for one of the local municipalities. He worked as a heavy equipment operator. One day while they were out clearing brush, he had to do some work on one of these pieces of heavy equipment. While he was working on the heavy equipment, he had to open up the arms of the heavy equipment.
This allowed him to maneuver and do some welding that needed to be done. Without getting into too many details of the engineering side of it, what happened was a catastrophic failure of the hydraulic system, in this piece of heavy equipment. What that meant for this young man I’ve known almost my whole life was that he got crushed within this equipment. Any other person, this would have been the last we heard of them. This guy knows a tough old boot. He’d worked as a rodeo clown. He’s one of the few people who could have withstood what happened to his body.
However, he was gravely injured, broken back, broken hips, burns, the kind of injuries you don’t bounce back from. I spoke to him after this happened and I told him if he ever had any questions, to let me know. One of the great joys in my career was I actually got to work this case with another lawyer from my home town. We represented a hometown guy working together as hometown friends. We brought in experts from out of town. We brought in one of the best experts on hydraulic heavy equipment from Utah. We tested this equipment.
Many lawyers wouldn’t spend the kind of money that is required to properly work up a product’s case, but we did and we were able to replicate this failure. A failure that was due to a manufacturing and design defect in this piece of heavy equipment. These are difficult cases. Engineering is difficult. We were able to prove that this heavy equipment failed because it was designed improperly and we knew it was designed improperly because this company themselves had followed a patent to fix this problem. They just had not incorporated it yet.
Without even having to file a lawsuit, this company, multinational international company, asked us to mediate. At mediation, we were made a fair offer, an offer that was way more than we expected this early in the litigation and my client chose to settle it. It will always be one of my favorite cases because I got to represent somebody who I’ve known since we were kids and played Peewee football with.