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The Highest Product Liability Verdicts in Georgia in 2013 ~ part 2

seat-belt-for-blog-august-23.jpgThe following are the top Product Liability Verdicts in Georgia for 2013 ~ part 2:

1.) A $ 10,000,000 verdict for the Plaintiff in Jefferson County, Georgia, Superior Court for Wrongful Death, and Design Defect with Failure to Warn.

The case name was Andrea Eslavan Hernandez as representative of the Estate of Florentino Hernandez v. Hi-Tech Engineering, No. 11-cv-622, and the date of the verdict was March 21, 2013.

The facts as summarized were that on December 29, 2006, the Plaintiff’s husband, Florentino Hernandez, age 53, was working at a lumber mill in Wadley, Georgia when he was doing maintenance on an inactive piece of equipment that was used to process wood when he was hit by a piece of lumber that came from an adjacent active piece of equipment of the same type that Hernandez was working on.

The piece of equipment was controlled by a central unit using software that was developed by the Defendant, Hi-Tech Engineering. The blow from the impact caused Mr. Hernandez to be thrown into spiked rollers that were active causing Mr. Hernandez to die from his injuries.

The Plaintiff’s case against Hi-Tech was based on the fact that the employees were following the instructions given by representatives of Hi-Tech that the employees only had to lockdown machines that were being worked on, therefore, the employees did not know that the activation of one machine could cause the activation of another machine.

It was further argued that Hi-Tech did not provide any manual or written instructions for the software, and that the machines did not have mechanisms that could manually lock down the machines.

The jury, after a four (4) day trial and only thirty-five (35) minutes of deliberation, came back with a verdict in favor of the Plaintiff for $ 10 million dollars holding Defendant Hi-Tech 100% liable for the incident.

2.) A $ 4,639,416 verdict for the Plaintiff in Gwinnett County State Court for a defective seat belt that caused a death.

The name of the case was William Bruner, Personal Representative of the Estate of Penney Bruner v. Key Safety Systems and Amanda Bruner, No. 09-C-16647-S5, and the date of the verdict was November 25, 2013.

The facts as summarized are as follows that on September 23, 2007, Penney Bruner, age 47, was the passenger in a 2003 Jeep Wrangler wearing her seat belt that was manufactured by Key Safety Systems when the driver of the vehicle, Amanda Bruner, Ms. Bruner’s daughter, lost control causing the vehicle to hit the median and roll over a number of times. Ms. Bruner was ejected from the vehicle landing on the road and suffering injuries including lacerations from the seat belt, and, although conscious and talking at one point at the scene of the accident, she later died that same day.

Mr. William Bruner, Ms. Bruner’s husband of 25 years, sued Defendant Key Safety Systems for product liability for the faulty designing, testing, marketing, distributing, and integrating into the vehicle, and selling seat belts that caused the lap belt to move that ultimately caused Ms. Bruner to be ejected from the vehicle and causing her death. The specific failure was the failure to design a seat belt that had a web sensor that keeps the seat belt locked. Furthermore, the Plaintiff alleged that the lacerations that Ms. Penney suffered were from the loose seat belt itself.

The driver’s, Daughter Amanda Bruner, seat belt had such a web sensor that kept the seat belt tight so she was not ejected from the vehicle during the accident and only suffered minor injuries as a result.

Defendant Key Safety denied any liability or default of design and held firm that its seat belt met the vehicle manufacturer’s safety standards.

The jury, after a nine (9) day trial and one (1) day of deliberation, rendered an unanimous verdict finding the Defendant Key Safety Systems 80% liable, and the driver, Amanda Bruner, 20% liable, and damages of $ 3.5 million for Ms. Bruner’s pain and suffering while she was conscious before she died, just over $ 1.1 million for the value of Ms. Bruner’s life, and just over $ 18,000 for medical and funeral expenses.

At Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law, & Affiliates we are experienced advocates for victims in product liability cases so if you or a loved one has suffered an injury or death due to a defective product, then please Contact Us for your free legal consultation, by any or all of the following means: By phone at 770-865-8654, or (813) 363-6664; by email at; by the Contact Form on this blog; and/or by the Contact Form on our website. We are eager to assist you in any way that we can.