Lawsuits brought by plaintiffs injured while using heavy industrial equipment or power tools share some common traits. They often involve catastrophic injuries, from paralysis to amputations to critical burn injuries. They usually involve a work situation where the conduct of the employer, and specifically the working conditions and the training (or lack thereof) provided by the employer, is at issue. They involve sophisticated machinery and equipment that plaintiff lawyers often oversimplify or mischaracterize. These variables typically add up to a case where the risk presented by an adverse jury verdict can be high.
Schiff Hardin lawyers have been representing manufacturers of industrial equipment and power tools for decades. We know that regardless of the product involved or the nature of the accident, each case requires a thorough and deep understanding of the client’s business and the line of products it produces. We know that to eliminate or reduce the threat of a big verdict (because even though most cases don’t ultimately get tried, that risk has to be eliminated in order to drive a reasonable settlement), the product has to be demystified for a jury and its benefits explained in a way that is understandable. We also know that in many cases, the best resource to help us understand the product may also be the best expert witness we can present at trial — our client’s own in house design engineer. And finally, we know that there is no template for the defense of these cases; after the facts are known and the issues identified, the best approach might be a straight-up defense of the product’s design, a defense based on product alteration or misuse, or one arguing the complete absence of causation.
There’s no magic to defending these cases, but there is the risk of a serious exposure if the details aren’t taken care of and the right theory of the case isn’t identified. As our clients will tell you, we understand these cases and what it takes to minimize or eliminate the risk they present.