Significant Settlement Win for South Georgia Industrial Worker

 In Brent Savage Jr, News, Zachary R. Sprouse

A materials handler at a South Georgia facility was severely injured when a stack of heavy doors collapsed from a wooden materials storage rack. The blow struck the worker with enough force to knock him unconscious.

The defendant sent an offer of judgment pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 9-11-68 after mediation. However, the trial lawyers at Savage, Turner, Durham, Pinckney & Savage secured a significant settlement – more than five times the offer of judgment – within a month of trial.

A Georgia Tech trained engineer identified concerning details about the rack’s design. Indeed, the expert testified that the design for the wooden racks at issue in this case is not reasonably safe. There are a sufficient number of examples of relatively routine adjustments that must be made in order to avoid exposing workers to needless risks.

OSHA standards state: “Storage of material shall not create a hazard. Bags, containers, bundles, etc., stored in tiers shall be stacked, blocked, interlocked and limited in height so that they are stable and secure against sliding or collapse.” 1910.176(b). This OSHA standard does not address all questions related to this product. However, it is illustrative of the type of care expected in the design of a product used to secure doors or store materials in this work setting.

Further, the lack of warnings played a significant role in the injury. Further expert testimony provided:

I believe these types of injuries are easily preventable by the manufacturer following basic steps in designing and maintaining a reasonably safe product and providing adequate warnings to further guard against this type of preventable injury.

Evidenced by customer complaints two years before the injury, the rack manufacturer knew or should have known about this problem with the rack system. No warnings were issued.

Particularly as it relates to the Warning issue, the following Suggested Pattern Charge plainly states the law in this area.

1 Ga. Jury Instructions – Civil § 62.680 provides:

A manufacturer has a duty to give an adequate warning of known or reasonably foreseeable danger arising from the use of a product. The manufacturer owes this duty to warn all persons whom the manufacturer should reasonably foresee may use or be affected by the product. A manufacturer’s duty to warn may be breached by:

(a)failing to provide an adequate warning of the product’s potential dangers, or

(b)failing to adequately communicate to the ultimate user the warning provided.

A product, however well or carefully made, that is sold without an adequate warning of such danger may be said to be in a defective condition. If you find by a preponderance of the evidence that the manufacturer did not warn or did not adequately warn when a warning should have been given, then you may find the product to be defective for that reason, and the plaintiff is entitled to recover.

This result represents a big win for a deserving man.