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Ellwood City man awarded $3 million in product liability case

A man from Ellwood City man has won a near $3 million verdict in a product liability case for an injury he sustained on a job site due to faulty machinery. The man and his wife were awarded compensation that reflected lost wages, medical expenses, pain, suffering, future earnings, and a detriment to quality of life.

Attorney Dallas Hartman, New Castle's personal injury expert, represented the family in their case against Bobcat Company–a heavy machinery manufacturer that is known for their earth movers, excavators, and tractors. The total award came in at $2,991,337 and is "very fair…not excessive," said Attorney Hartman.

While Hartman acknowledges that $3 million is a lot of money, he also said that "[the victim] is not overpaid by a nickel. There is no one who I know who would trade places with [the victim] for this amount of money. And he would no doubt give it back if he could be returned to what he was the day before the accident."

Attorney Hartman said that his client, who was 47-years-old at the time of accident, was walking close to a Bobcat Skid Steer Loader at Lake Wilhelm in Mercer County when the operator of the machine accidentally bumped one of the hydraulic controls. This caused the boom of the backhoe to swing sharply and strike the victim in head, causing the man severe lasting injuries.

Hartman argued the accident was the result of Bobcat's negligent design, that most other excavation equipment manufacturers have built safeguards around the hydraulic controls, such as bars or cages, which do not allow the operating controls to be unintentionally moved. To aid in his case, Attorney Hartman was able to provide five physicians who testified that the victim has indeed suffered from an "horrific brain injury that resulted in permanent and catastrophic injuries.

"In many ways," said Hartman of the victim, "he is still normal, but there are many things that the former high school track coach will never be able to do again." Even carrying on a conversation or driving short distances exhausts him due to the amount of concentration he must exercise.

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