CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Emily Ruby, left, and defense attorney Jeffrey Zinder, right, delivering their opening statements
Santa Ana, CA - A California state court jury heard opening statements Monday in a products liability lawsuit involving claims that a supposedly defective guard chain on a scissor lift caused a worker to fall from a height of twelve feet.
Plaintiff Raul Camacho sued JLG Industries Inc, a subsidiary of of Oshkosh Corporation, in 2017 following his fall from a 1930ES brand scissor lift while replacing windowpanes as part of a hotel renovation. His lawsuit alleges the chain latch at the entrance to the scissor lift didn’t offer adequate fall protection, but JLG maintains the accident took place due to Camacho’s supposedly unsafe behavior on the lift.
The trial is being recorded and webcast on-demand gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.
During her opening statement on Camacho’s behalf, Emily Ruby of Greenberg and Ruby Injury Attorneys APC told jurors that JLG, one of the largest manufacturers of scissor lifts in the world, defectively designed the 1930ES by not including a self-latching gate and toe board at the entrance to the lift.
She argued that European regulators require self-latching gates and toe boards on scissor lifts, and that JLG failed to do consumer use studies to determine whether or not the lift’s design posed a safety risk.
“No studies, no research, no testing, not before putting the product on the market or after,” Ruby said, adding that other manufacturers voluntarily stopped manufacturing lifts with chain latches.
Ruby did not describe Camacho’s injuries in detail or ask for a specific amount of damages in the bifurcated trial, focusing instead on the question of liability and simply telling jurors that he fell 12 feet onto a concrete floor while working in the lift with a co-worker, who was the only person to witness the accident.
Neither Ruby nor JLG’s attorney, Jeffrey Zinder of Zinder & Koch, could show the jury a picture of the lift in question during their opening statement due to what Ruby characterized as “the rulings of this court.”
Zinder lamented during his opening that he had to rely on “1000 words” instead of just showing jurors a picture of the lift, but he placed the blame for the accident squarely on Camacho’s actions and argued the lift worked properly as designed.
Zinder stressed that the entire lift is surrounded by a 42-inch guardrail that users have to physically duck under, which he said offered significant fall protection. He also argued repeatedly that evidence would show the chain latch wasn’t closed, thus rendering it useless.
Camacho engaged in numerous unsafe practices on the lift, according to Zinder, including not closing the latch, not wearing a safety harness, and placing breakable board close to the edge of the lift that someone could accidentally step on. He said Camacho, who he described as an experienced glass worker who frequently used scissor lifts, underwent extensive training that should have informed him these actions were dangerous.
“The scissor lift worked exactly as it was designed to work,” Zinder said. “Its safety design was overridden by various failures by those that were using it. Unfortunately those failures had consequences.”
Both sides indicated they would rely extensively on expert witness testimony in the upcoming trial, currently projected to take two or three weeks to complete. The full proceedings will be available on-demand throughout the trial via CVN.
The full trial, along with hundreds more, is available with a subscription to CVN’s online trial video library. CVN covered this trial gavel-to-gavel as part of an ongoing commitment to filming and webcasting “real world trials” of news value to the legal, business and educational communities that CVN primarily serves but aren’t covered by other news media organizations.
Judge Robert Moss is presiding.
The case is captioned Raul Camacho v. JLG Industries Inc., case number 30-2017-00902499-CU-PO-CJC in Orange County Superior Court.
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