A jury in Indiana's Marion County Circuit Court awarded a judgment of $21.3 million to a man severely injured in a bizarre incident, finding a regional garage door liable for the accident. Professional Garage Door Systems (Pro Door) had a technician respond to a service call for a 16-foot garage door with an opener. Approximately a week later, an electrician named Ralph Parker was on-site to perform general upgrades to the location's wiring. Parker was on a ladder above the door when he touched a control wire, triggering the door opener. The door escalated, striking his ladder and suddenly Parker was trapped between the door and horizontal roof beam. The door's opener further applied pressure, rendering him unconscious, and soon the motor failed and released the door, sending Parker plummeting to the ground. Injury to his spine caused permanent paralysis in his lower body.
Indiana employs comparative fault law, meaning the jury must decide that Pro Door was over 50% responsible for the accident to be liable. Defense attorneys argued that Parker should have initially turned off the breaker and/or unplugged the door operating unit. Expert witnesses for the plaintiff suggested that Pro Door's technician was not sufficiently trained. Ultimately, the jury found Pro Door to be 70% liable for the accident and awarded tangible damages for medical bills and lost wages, as well as intangible damages including pain, suffering, anguish and others. The reasoning was based on the company's negligence in inspection, service and repair of the door unit product.
Garage Door Accident Avoidance
This case brought to light the importance of electric garage door safety in households and businesses; some best practices are as follows:
- Educate all family members on how the door functions and how to disconnect the power if necessary.
- Small children should understand the importance of avoiding the door's path of operation.
- Never “race” under a closing door, as there is risk despite sensitive motion detectors.
- Avoid conducting DIY repairs to door units; contact a trained professional for service and repair.
Defenses for Actions of Product Liability in Colorado
- Modification: If modification is made to a product beyond the scope in the manufacturer's instructions, it is unlikely that the plaintiff can prove that a defect or failure occurred while being used as intended.
- Misuse: The manufacturer is not subject to product liability from injury, death or property damaged if:
- The product was used for an unintended purpose.
- Misusage of the product couldn't have reasonably been expected.
- The injury, death, or damage resulted from misuse, even if the product is found to be defective.
Have you or a loved one been victimized as a result of a product or service related problem? The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal will work aggressively to secure compensation in cases involving injury, death or property damage. Contact our office today for a free consultation to review your case.