• Defense Verdict Obtained in Lawn Mower Accident
  • May 3, 2017 | Authors: Seth R. Goldberg; Michael J. Paris
  • Law Firm: Conroy Simberg - Hollywood Office
  • In 2008, Plaintiff purchased a Billy Goat “Finish Mower” lawn mower to use in her new landscape business and she used it as her primary mower until sometime in 2009 when she bought a bigger, more expensive riding mower and the Billy Goat became her back up mower.  On July 5, 2014 the plaintiff was using her Billy Goat finish mower to cut long wet grass and the mower kept clogging up. In violation of the manual and warnings therein, the plaintiff placed her right hand below the cutting deck without turning off the mower on nine occasions without incident.  On the tenth time, she severed a portion of her right thumb and damaged her index and middle finger.

    The plaintiff alleged that the Billy Goat mower was defective, that it did not adequately test the mower before putting it on the market, and that it did not use what its own expert believed were state of the art components.  This resulted in the stopping time of the blades exceeding the ANSI standard of 7 seconds as well as the manufacturer’s statement that the blades would stop within 5 seconds from the time you release the lever that controls the cutting blades.

    Plaintiff claimed over $200,000 in past medical bills for 7 surgeries, and asked the jury for one to two million dollars, arguing that the jury should or could forgive the plaintiff for her conduct.

    The defense claimed that the mower had not been properly maintained and proved at trial through its expert that if properly maintained, the mower’s cutting blades would stop within 1 second.  The defense also argued that the Plaintiff read all of the warnings and the manual and she admitted that she understood them.

    Plaintiff’s theories of liability were strict liability for design and warnings, and negligence in the design and warnings. The jury deliberated for slightly more than 2 hours, after which it returned a defense verdict on all counts.