A Hidalgo County judge has ordered Hyster-Yale Group to pay more than USD10.5 million to a worker injured in a 2017 forklift accident, finding the manufacturer sold a defective machine.
The trial lawyers at Cowen Rodriguez Peacock represented Christopher Zieske in the lawsuit against Hyster-Yale Group, the law firm says in a statement.
Zieske was working as a forklift operator at a warehouse in South Texas when he momentarily lost his balance, causing his left leg to extend outside the operator compartment.
His leg became stuck between the forklift and a warehouse column, resulting in injuries that required the leg to be amputated from the knee and below.
During the trial, lawyers showed evidence of negligence by Hyster-Yale Group for a defective design of the Yale forklift model.
The forklift did not offer an occupant restraint system, such as a seat belt or harness, and the design failed to protect Zieske and maintain his lower extremities within the cabin while the forklift was in operation.
Additionally, lawyers argued that the seller knew of the lack of enclosure or restraint system on the forklift when it was sold and the dangers of the design.
An analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) data by a Cowen Rodriguez Peacock expert shows lower leg injuries on stand-up forklifts occur once every eight days.
The jury ordered Hyster-Yale Group to pay USD17.5 million to the victim.
A final judgment of more than USD10.5 million was issued on 29 September by Judge Letty Lopez in the 389th District Court in Hidalgo County.
Zieske was represented by Michael Cowen and Malorie Peacock of Cowen Rodriguez Peacock.
"This result not only secures justice for our client but also underscores the critical need for accountability in ensuring the safety of workplace equipment," Peacock says. "We are extremely proud of this trial team and thankful to our client for trusting us."
Hyster-Yale is being sought for comment.