Flora Iannacone v. SPS Technologies and B. Altman (Third-party Deft.)
Type of Injury
department manager for Deft. B. Altman
$950,000 v. SPS (6/0).
X/24-24 PRODUCT LIABILITY CHAIR COLLAPSE DEFECTIVE DESIGN BRAIN DAMAGE
Flora Iannacone v. SPS Technologies and B. Altman (Third-party Deft.) 89 CIV 7085 4-day trial Verdict 2/14/92 Judge Louis J. Freeh, Southern District
VERDICT: $950,000 v. SPS (6/0). Breakdown: $50,000 for past pain and suffering; $330,000 for future pain and suffering; $120,000 for past lost earnings; $258,000 for future lost earnings; $14,000 for past medical expenses; $178,000 for future medical expenses. Post-trial motions were denied. Jury: 3 male, 5 female.
Pltf. Atty: Thomas A. Stickel of Stickel & Belovin, Manhattan
Deft. Atty: John H. Wilson of Langan & Levy, Manhattan, for SPS Technologies
William M. Ciment of Jacobowitz, Spessard, Garfinkel & Lesman, Manhattan, for Third-party Deft. B. Altman
Facts: Pltf. was a 57-year-old department manager for Deft. B. Altman when she was injured when the chair in which she was sitting collapsed in July 1990. The chair, manufactured by Deft. SPS Technologies, was 24 years old at the time of the accident. Pltf. claimed that the chair had been defectively designed in that only one bolt secured the seat back to the bottom portion of the chair. Pltf.’s metallurgist testified that when this bolt failed, Pltf.’s weight was thrown backwards, causing the chair to collapse. He also testified that the bolt failure occurred at an area where the bolt and the seat back assembly did not fit together properly. Further stress was added to the bolt because the weight of the seat back was placed on the fulcrum, which was attached to the bolt. The expert testified that the bolt could not be tightened, causing the chair to wobble, which stripped the threads on the bolt, causing the bolt to weaken and eventually give way.
Deft. SPS Technologies contended that the chair was properly designed, noting that it had been in use for 24 years. It claimed that the chair failed because Third-party Deft. B. Altman failed to provide adequate maintenance. Pltf. contended that while the chair had been used for 24 years, its design ensured that the bolt would fail eventually. Deft. B. Altman contended that the chair did not wobble excessively and it argued that it could not reasonably have been aware of the hazard.
Injuries: brain damage with memory loss and disorientation; concussion and post-concussion syndrome; lumbar nerve root irritation at L4-5, confirmed by EMG. Pltf. was knocked unconscious for a short time. Her physician testified that she will continue to experience radiating pain. Pltf.’s neuropsychiatrist testified that she will continue to suffer from headaches and loss of concentration. Pltf. also suffers from bouts of depression and occasional short-term memory loss. Deft.’s rehabilitative medicine expert testified, based on a review of Pltf.’s medical records, that her claims were exaggerated. He also presented copies of a negative EEG that he had performed on Pltf. Demonstrative evidence: photographs and design drawings of the chair; pieces of the broken chair and bolt; models of the spine and brain; EMGs; CAT scan. Specials: $36,000 Workers’ Compensation lien. Offer: $7,500; demand: $75, 000; amount asked of jury: $950,000. Jury deliberation: 4? hours. Carrier: State Farm. Pltf. Experts: Karl Putlitz, metallurgist, Wappingers Falls; Dr. Idillio Noseda, general practitioner, Manhattan; Dr. Arthur Greenspan, neuropsychiatrist, Manhattan. Deft. Expert: Edmond Provder, vocational rehabilitation, Manhattan.