A Mississippi federal jury returned an $8.5 million verdict against crane manufacturer Manitowoc Cranes LLC last month. The jurors ruled for the wife of a crane operator who was severely injured in a 2014 tip-over accident. The award will be reduced as Manitowoc wasn’t found completely at fault. Wanda Williams, whose husband, John, suffered “catastrophic permanent injuries” after being launched from a Manitowoc-model crane cab during a tip-over incident in June 2014, was awarded $8 million in economic and noneconomic damages on her failure to warn claim, and $500,000 on her loss of consortium claim against the crane maker.
The jury concluded that Williams had proven that Manitowoc’s model 16000 crane failed to contain adequate warnings or instructions as to the dangers of falling counterweights, which are used to keep the crane stable during operation. The jury found she had also proven her loss of consortium claim.
Williams was operating a Manitowoc-model “crawler” crane at VT Halter Marine’s Pascagoula, Miss., shipyard on June 25, 2014, when his crane began to tip forward, causing roughly 18,000 pounds of unsecured counterweights to shift forward as well, striking the back of his crane cab and ejecting him out the front. The crane began to tip forward slowly, giving Williams a short window to have jumped to safety. However, he remained in the cab and tried to stabilize it, not realizing that the counterweights behind the crane cab had the potential to come loose. As a result of being ejected, Williams suffered permanent brain damage and blindness.
However, the jury found Manitowoc to be only 40 percent at fault for the tip-over incident. John Williams was found to have been 10 percent at fault. VT Halter Marine Inc., the shipyard he was operating the crane for at the time was found to be 50 percent at fault. The shipyard was not a party to the instant suit. VT Halter was immune from being sued because it was John Williams’ employer. Under Mississippi law, the jury is allowed to allocate fault, even to nonparties, and they did so in this case.
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.