Plaintiff v Heavy Equipment Manufacturer, et al
Sedgwick obtained summary judgment on behalf of our client, a heavy equipment manufacturer, in a product liability and wrongful death action filed in New Jersey state court. The plaintiff's decedent sustained fatal injuries while working as an employee at a construction site. A subcontractor of the decedent's employer was operating an excavator manufactured by our client. The heavy equipment operator backed up and accidentally ran over the decedent. The five-count complaint filed against three defendants sounded in negligence (as to all defendants); defective design/failure to warn (as to our client only) and wrongful death (as to all defendants). The plaintiff alleged that our client negligently designed and manufactured the excavator and that the excavator was designed in a defective manner and/or failed to contain adequate warnings. At the close of the discovery period and just six weeks before trial, the plaintiff failed to produce any expert testimony or reports alleging that the subject equipment was defective or lacked the appropriate warnings, rendering it defective. Sedgwick filed for summary judgment on the grounds that any potential proof that the excavator was improperly designed was outside the scope of knowledge of the average juror and required the testimony of a qualified expert to assist the jury. The court granted our motion.