Jury Awards $66 Million in Defective Exercise Equipment Product Liability Action

A Buffalo, New York jury awarded $66 Million to a former massage therapist who became a quadriplegic after a 2004 workplace accident in which a 600-pound leg extension exercise machine fell on her. The jury ruled against Cybex International Inc., a well-known maker of exercise equipment, in a product liability action that also apportioned liability on Plaintiff’s employer.

Our Annapolis, Maryland product liability attorneys represent Plaintiffs in product liability actions in which Plaintiffs have been injured by manufacturing defects or a manufacturer’s failure to warn of risks.

The New York jury verdict awarded $8 million for past pain and suffering, $151,690 in past lost earnings, $1.68 million for past medical expenses, $25 million for future pain and suffering, $1.79 million for future lost earnings, $28.56 for future medical expenses and $792,435 for care of potential children to 30-year-old Natalie Barnhard.

The accident occurred while Plaintiff was doing a shoulder stretch. Plaintiff had her hand on top of the leg extension machine, and it fell onto her when she stretched back with her shoulder and arm, according to attorney. The machine broke two cervical vertebrae and compressed the bones onto her spinal cord.

The jury found Cybex 75 percent liable for the Plaintiff’s injuries, Plaintiff’s employer 20 percent liable, and the Plaintiff 5 percent responsible for the accident.

Maryland law also supports recovery for Plaintiff’s that have been injured by a Manufacturer’s negligence in producing defective products and/or failing to warn of a risk that is reasonably discoverable by the manufacturer. Two points, however are noteworthy:

  1. Maryland, as of 2010, presently caps recovery for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, at $740,000. This amount modestly increases every October.
  2. Maryland law precludes recovery under the doctrine of Contributory Negligence in a negligence action where a Plaintiff contributes to his/her injury, notwithstanding a Defendant manufacturer’s negligence.

Nevertheless, a Plaintiff’s contributory negligence does not bar a Plaintiff’s recovery under a theory of Strict Product Liability. The key difference between Strict Product Liability and Negligence is that an action based in Negligence focuses on the conduct of the manufacturer. In Strict Liability, the law focuses on the product itself.

Our office represents Plaintiffs who have been injured by manufacturing and design defects and/or a manufacturer’s failure to warn. If you believe you have been injured by a defective product please contact our office for a free consultation.

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