Retrial in Product Liability Case Involving Defective Roof Bracket
- Kreindler & Kreindler successfully represented two victims in this Workplace & Construction Injury product liability case.
- Kreindler partner Andrew Maloney’s knowledge of the law resulted in the Connecticut Supreme Court reversing a longstanding law.
Kreindler & Kreindler represented the families of two construction workers severely injured when a defective roof bracket failed causing them to plummet to the ground. In this product liability case, it was claimed the roof brackets were not designed to withstand some of the loads that would be placed on them during ordinary use. It was also claimed 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 Waterbury, Connecticut, a jury found the bracket defective and the proximate cause of the injuries, but in response to a special jury interrogatory, also found negligence by the plaintiffs’ employer for failing to supply a safety net, to be an intervening cause. Plaintiffs objected to this special interrogatory at trial arguing that, at best, an employer could only be found jointly negligent.
Prior to the jury being instructed, the plaintiffs had objected to that specific special interrogatory that led the finding of intervening cause. Kreindler attorneys 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 superseding cause. At best, the employer could be found jointly negligent.
This advance in Connecticut law brought about by Kreindler in this case will benefit injured individuals and their families for years to come.
However the Trial Judge, over objection, charged the jury on the doctrine of superseding cause and judgment was entered in favor of the defendants. In September 2002, the firm argued the appeal before the Supreme Court of the State of Connecticut. The Court’s opinion, released on May 6, 2003, changed Connecticut’s longstanding law on superseding cause. The Supreme Court of Connecticut stated that the jury found that the “product was defective and unreasonably dangerous at the time it was manufactured and sold by the defendants, and that the defective condition of the product was a proximate cause of the plaintiffs’ accident”. The Court went on to abandon the use of the doctrine of superseding cause except in exceptional circumstances, ruled that the Trial Judge should not have charged the jury on the issue of superseding cause and granted the Plaintiffs a new trial. This advance in Connecticut law brought about by Kreindler in this case will benefit injured individuals and their families for years to come.
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 handled the case.