Cohade v Qual-Craft Industries — $2 million Verdict on Retrial after Appeal which Created New Law in Connecticut

In this product liability case, it was claimed that the roof brackets at issue were defective because they were not designed to withstand some of the types of loads that would be placed on them during ordinary use. It was claimed that the brackets failed during ordinary and foreseeable use and led to the injuries suffered by two carpenters who relied upon them to secure the roof scaffolding.

After a lengthy trial in Connecticut, a jury found the bracket defective and the cause of the injuries, but in response to a special jury interrogatory also found negligence by the plaintiffs' employer to be an intervening cause.

Prior to the jury being instructed, the plaintiffs had objected to that specific special interrogatory that led the finding of intervening cause. We argued that since the two injured plaintiffs could not have sued their employer under the worker's compensation laws, the employer could not be a superceding cause. At best, the employer could be found jointly negligent.

The Connecticut Supreme Court agreed, and reversed a longstanding line of cases which allowed this type of defense. The Court affirmed the $2.3 million dollar verdict and made clear that the manufacturer of the roof bracket could not seek contribution from the plaintiffs' employer. It also found that the plaintiffs had no duty to anticipate that the roof brackets would be defective and would collapse nor were they required to use a back up protection against a fall.

Partner Andrew Maloney and Of Counsel David Beekman handled the case for the firm.