February 20, 2019
Linares v. Crown Equipment and Capps v. Safariland have been selected by Daily Journal as Top Defense Verdicts of 2018 (published February 20, 2019).
Linares involved a stand-up forklift operator who claimed negligence in service and maintenance as well as design defect. Todd Cavanaugh was lead attorney.
Capps, the plaintiff claimed negligence and design defect after accidentally shooting herself in the calf. Steve Smelser was lead attorney.
Plaintiff—a trained forklift operator—claimed that the steering malfunctioned on a Crown “stand-up rider” forklift and caused the forklift to strike a metal guardrail. Prior to the “impact,” plaintiff’s foot extended outside of the operator compartment and was crushed between the forklift and the guardrail. Plaintiff alleged Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, PTSD, and inability to work.
Plaintiff alleged that Crown negligently serviced the steering system. He also contended that the forklift was defective for lack of a door in the entryway to the operator compartment. Crown contended that the forklift was properly maintained, was not defective, and that the accident was caused by operator error.
The defense established that low-speed collisions with fixed objects are entirely safe for the operator provided the operator follows his/her training and remains inside the operator compartment, but can cause injury when the operator puts a foot or other body part outside of the forklift. Crown further proved that forklift was properly maintained, and, when required, properly repaired. Following a seven-day trial, it took a federal jury fewer than 45 minutes to render a unanimous defense verdict in favor of Crown Equipment Corporation.
Plaintiff Sandra Capps, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, accidentally shot herself in the calf—claiming the strap of her backpack fell into her holster, and triggered the gun. She and her husband sought more than $2.5M, based on product liability design defect, and loss of consortium. A second sheriff’s deputy, Michael Lorenzi, also sued for $100,000, based on product liability design defect and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Lorenzi’s gun discharged in a separate incident, without physical injury. Defense argued that Capps and Lorenzi ignored their training and thus were responsible for their own injuries. After an eight day trial, and 90 minutes of jury deliberation, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
For nine years, Yukevich | Cavanaugh has been selected by the Daily Journal for at least one Top Defense Verdict.