A man who suffered catastrophic injuries due to a ladder fall emerged victorious in his personal injury lawsuit against the manufacturer of the ladder from which he fell. The $11 million verdict he won at trial will stand, following a recent review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
In Baugh v. Cuprum, defendant manufacturer appealed the trial court’s refusal to grant a new trial on the grounds the district court wrongly allowed two of plaintiff’s expert witnesses to testify about critical issues. However, the appellate court ruled that both methodologies used by the two expert witnesses were adequate and most of defendant’s complaints were regarding the weight given to that expert witness testimony, rather than the admissibility. Defendant also argued it was entitled to a judgment in its favor as a matter of law because plaintiff failed to show the ladder was unreasonably dangerous and that this issue was the most likely cause of plaintiff’s accident. Here again, though, the court found there was sufficient evidence that demonstrated the accident was more likely caused by the ladder’s original design defect as opposed to any wrongful use of it, and there was also enough evidence that a reasonable alternative design existed. Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment.
Although multi-million dollar verdicts may not always be the norm, ladder falls are quite common. In fact, they are increasing. Between 1990 and 2005, the American Journal of Preventative Medicine reported the number of ladder-related injuries in the U.S. rose by 50 percent, with almost 1 in 10 victims needing to be hospitalized. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reports that 500,000 people are treated every year for ladder-related injuries and about 300 of those are fatal. These injuries are estimated to cost us all approximately $11 billion a year. Continue reading →