5-Week Trial Results in Defense Verdict

A Department of Corrections employee was severely injured when he fell 10 feet through a suspended metal security ceiling. It was undisputed that the plaintiff, 27 years old at the time of the accident, suffered a traumatic brain injury and would never work again. Plaintiffs sued the product manufacturer, architect, general contractor, and installation subcontractor. Tom Merrick and Dave Cottnair represented the installation subcontractor. Tom and Dave obtained summary judgment dismissal of claims based upon the Washington Product Liability Act (WPLA) and the Uniform Commercial Code. Despite the fact that all WPLA claims had been dismissed, and that there was no common law “failure to warn” cause of action outside of the WPLA, the trial court allowed plaintiffs to maintain a failure to warn claim against the subcontractor. Plaintiffs also alleged that our client negligently installed the metal security ceiling in the area of the fall. Although the ceiling was not designed or intended to carry the weight of a person, plaintiffs argued that if it had been properly installed, it would have held up to 450 pounds.

The manufacturer settled with the plaintiffs, and the case proceeded to trial against the installation subcontractor, the architect, and the general contractor. Plaintiffs asked the jury for a verdict in excess of $50 million dollars. As a result of a coordinated effort amongst defense counsel, the jury found none of the defendants were negligent.