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    Samuel A. Cherry
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BUCKET TRUCK LIABILITY

Bucket Truck Litigation Lawyers

The insulated aerial lift device (bucket truck or cherry picker) has become a mainstay in the equipment inventory of most utilities. These devices are designed to provide the linemen with an insulated and safer work platform. Unfortunately, rather than decreasing work hazards, many bucket trucks actually increase the hazards with which workers may contend due to design flaws and inadequate warnings, which produce a false sense of security. With minor variations, the principal design configurations on most bucket trucks are the same. All insulated aerial lift devices are manufactured in compliance with ANSI Standard A-92.2. The upper end of the boom tip on many of the units still in the workplace has exposed metal without insulating covers. Unknown to most operators, this metal may become conductively bonded to the control handle. The bucket truck industry refers to this hazard as the Electrical Continuity Hazard.

This hazard presents an unacceptable risk to the operators of these units. The hazard can be greatly minimized with the use of insulating covers to eliminate exposed metal. Moreover, the industry has gone toward the use of isolated control handles. Both of these are safety design approaches, which should be used on all insulated aerial lift devices.

These cases almost always involve very serious injury or death. The hazard, defect and mechanism of injury in virtually all of the electrocution cases are, or will be, basically identical. Likewise, the same defenses of failure to wear rubber gloves, violation of safe practices, assumption of risk and contributory negligence are going to be asserted by the manufacturers.

As a result of its litigation exposure, this industry has moved toward the use of more insulated covers, the elimination of exposed metal in the boom tip area of the products and isolated control handles. Unfortunately, there are thousands of unsafe units remaining in the work place. In many states, it does not matter how old a device may be, a manufacturer could still be held liable for lack of safety controls that were feasible at the time of the manufacture of the units.

The goal of Cherry & Irwin is to work with local lawyers in maximizing the recovery for injured linemen and their families. Our history of results in this area of cases is unsurpassed by any firm in the country, so we look forward to hearing from and assisting local lawyers to represent clients they have, who were victimized by unnecessary hazards in bucket trucks. Contact us now.

Resources

 

 

 

NOTABLE BUCKET TRUCK VERDICTS AND SETTLEMENTS OF SAMUEL A CHERRY, JR.

The primary defendants have been Altec and Terex (formerly known as Telelect). Most of the settlements were confidential and hence the names of the parties have been deleted.

Aultman vs (Hi-Ranger) Terex-Telelect, Inc. - $114 Million Jury Verdict. Circuit Court of Hale County, Alabama.

This case involved electrical burns and the double arm amputation of a journeyman lineman employed by Black Warrior Electric Cooperative. Aultman was engaged in distribution line maintenance work out of a Hi-Ranger insulated bucket truck when a 7,200 volt power line came in contact with exposed metallic componentry on the underside of the upper boom. This particular model was equipped with an isolated control handle and the control handle would not have become energized except for the fact that the employer had incorrectly replaced a non-conductive hose with a conductive hose leading into the control handle. We were able to prove to a jury that this was a foreseeable consequence and that even with this maintenance error the accident would not have happened if the unit had been equipped with a non-conductive control handle. The jury awarded $14.5 million in compensatory damages and $100 million in punitive damages. Mr. Cherry was responsible for the liability portion of the trial.

Fenstermacher vs. Telelect, Inc. - $11.9 Million Jury Verdict. U.S.D.C., District of Kansas.

This case involved the double amputation of a journeyman lineman employed by Kansas Power & Light. Fenstermacher was engaged in a pole replacement procedure when a 7,200 volt power line came in contact with the jib cylinder anchor bracket on his bucket truck, which in turn energized all metal in the boom tip area, including the control handles. He was not wearing his rubber gloves at the time of the occurrence and he did not use rubber line hoses. Kansas is a comparative negligence state but the jury assigned no contributory negligence to the plaintiff and only 2% to his employer. The $11.9 million verdict included a $3.75 million punitive damage assessment by the Trial Judge. Under Kansas law the jury determines if punitive damages should apply and the trial judge assesses the amount of punitive damages. The Plaintiff settled with the distributor and an independent testing firm for $215,000 prior to trial.

DePriest vs. Telelect, Inc. - $4.9 Million Guaranteed Payout/$2 Million Present Value.

Circuit Court of Houston County, Alabama. This case involved a double amputation of a journeyman lineman employed by The City of Dothan, Alabama, Electrical Department. He was engaged in distribution line maintenance work when a 7,200 volt power line came in contact with the jib cylinder anchor bracket which in turn energized his control handle due to the bonding of all metal in the boom tip area of the product. DePriest was not wearing his rubber gloves at the time of the occurrence and it was alleged by the defense that he was in violation of a number of safe work practices and misused the product. The distributor, a safety management consulting firm for the City of Dothan and an independent testing firm were co-defendants and contributed to the settlement.

Moore vs. Telelect, Inc. - Undisclosed/Confidential Settlement. U.S.D.C., Southern District of New Mexico.

This case occurred in Lovington, New Mexico and involved the death of a journeyman lineman employed by Lea County, New Mexico, Electrical Cooperative. Robert Moore was engaged in distribution line maintenance work when a 7,200 volt power line came in contact with metallic componentry on the underside of the upper boom, which in turn energized his control handle due to the bonding of all metal in the boom tip area of the product. Moore was not wearing his rubber gloves at the time of the occurrence. The case was settled one week prior to trial. The terms of the settlement are the subject of a non-disclosure agreement.

Tymchuk vs. Altec Industries, Inc - $3.4 Million Non-Binding Arbitration Award; Later Settled For a Confidential Amount.

U.S.D.C., Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division. This case involves the death of a journeyman lineman employed by the City of Lakeland, Florida, Electrical Department. He was operating an Altec AM-500 Articulated Aerial Lift Device that had a similar hazard to the Telelect units inasmuch as Tymchuk's control handle became hot due to inadvertent contact with an energized conductor and exposed metal in the boom tip area of the product. Tymchuk was not wearing his rubber gloves at the time of the accident. The arbitration award was non-binding and the case was settled shortly thereafter for a confidential sum.

Anonymous vs. Anonymous - Undisclosed/Confidential Settlement. U.S.D.C., Western District of Louisiana, Lake Charles Division.

This case involves the double amputation of a journeyman lineman employed by Entergy. The lineman was operating a T-5050 Telelect at the time of the accident. He was engaged in distribution line maintenance when metallic componentry on the underside of the upper boom came in contact with an energized conductor, which in turn energized his control handle. The lineman was not wearing his rubber gloves at the time of the occurrence and it was alleged by the defense that he was in violation of a number of safe work practices and misused the product.

Canfield vs. Telelect, Inc -Undisclosed/Confidential Settlement. U.S.D.C., Northern Division of Ohio.

This case involved the death of an Ohio Edison lineman. All metal in the boom tip area of his bucket truck became energized as a result of inadvertent contact between a 7,200 volt power line and exposed metal at the boom tip of the product. Canfield was not wearing his rubber gloves at the time of the accident and was alleged to have violated a number of safe work practices. The case was settled prior to the striking of a jury in Cleveland, Ohio.

Crawford vs. Telelect, Inc - $1.575 Million Settlement. Circuit Court of Hawkins County, (Rogersville), Tennessee.

This case involves a single amputation of a lineman working for Holston County Electric Cooperative in Surgoinsville, Tennessee. The Plaintiff was operating aT-5000 articulated aerial lift device manufactured by Telelect. While the Plaintiff was engaged in maintenance work, a 7,200 volt power line came in contact with the jib cylinder anchor bracket on his unit which energized his control handle. Crawford was not wearing rubber gloves nor using line covers at the time of the accident.

Crosser vs. Telelect, Inc - Undisclosed/Confidential Settlement. U.S.D.C., Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division.

This case involves the single amputation of a journeyman lineman employed by Ohio Edison. He was operating a T-4000 articulated aerial lift device manufactured by Telelect when his control handle became energized due to inadvertent contact between exposed metal on the upper boom of the unit and an energized power line. Crosser was not wearing his rubber gloves at the time of the accident.

Anonymous vs. Anonymous - $2.7 Million Settlement. U.S.D.C., Eastern District of Arkansas, Western Division.

The Plaintiff received catastrophic injuries to both arms, resulting in above the elbow amputation of his right arm and loss of use of his left arm. The injuries occurred when an exposed screw on the underside of the upper boom came into contact with a 7600 volt energized line, energizing the main controls, and completing the circuit through the Plaintiff's arms and body through a grounded neutral line in the Plaintiff's left hand.

Anonymous vs. Anonymous - $4.35 Million Settlement. U.S.D.C., Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division.

The Plaintiff received catastrophic injuries to both arms, ultimately requiring bilateral above the elbow amputations. The injuries occurred when exposed or uncovered metallic components of the material handler mounted near the end of the upper boom came into contact with a 14,000 volt energized line, energizing the main controls, and completing the circuit through the Plaintiff's arms and body through a grounded neutral line in the Plaintiff's left hand.

Anonymous vs. Anonymous - $2.7 Million Settlement. Circuit Court of Lawrence County, Alabama.

The Plaintiff received catastrophic injuries to both arms, resulting in severe scarring, disfigurement and physical impairment. The injuries occurred when an exposed or uncovered metallic component on the underside of the upper boom cradle latch came into contact with an energized line, energizing the main controls, and completing the circuit through the Plaintiff's arms and body through a grounded neutral line in Plaintiff's left hand.

Newman v Hydra-Tech, Inc (Lift-All) - $5 Million Settlement. U.S.D.C. of Indiana.

The Plaintiff received catastrophic injuries to both arms, resulting in a bilateral above the elbow amputation. The injury occurred when exposed or uncovered metallic components of the material handler mounted near the end of the upper boom came into contact with a 7.2kV energized line, energizing the main controls and completing the circuit through the Plaintiff's arms and body through a grounded guy wire in the Plaintiff's left hand. At the time of the accident the Plaintiff was not wearing his rubber gloves nor did he have protective cover-ups on the conductors.

Anonymous vs. Anonymous - Confidential Settlement. U.S.D.C., Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta.

This case involved the death of a journeyman lineman. He was electrocuted when his control handle became "hot" due to inadvertent contact between an energized power line and exposed metal near the boom tip of his bucket truck. The lineman was not wearing his rubber gloves.

Anonymous vs. Anonymous - $6.8 Million Settlement. U.S.D.C., Southern District of Florida, Ft. Lauderdale.

This was a boom tip contact accident resulting in multiple extremity amputations. The case occurred in South Florida. The journeyman lineman was performing line maintenance work when he inadvertently allowed the underside of his boom tip to make contact with an energized power line which energized his control handle. The Plaintiff was not wearing his rubber gloves at the time of the accident..

 


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