Sutter O’Connell Obtains Unanimous Defense Verdict in Fatal Trailer Accident Case

Posted on April 12th, 2016 by Matthew C. O’Connell

The lawyers at Sutter O’Connell continue their successful national trial practice. We were asked to parachute in and defend a catastrophic product liability case pending in Benton County, Iowa. The matter involved a quadriplegic, two wrongful deaths, a traumatic brain injury and two additional serious personal injuries. A pickup truck driver, pulling a 28 foot trailer, lost control, crossed the median, and slammed into an oncoming vehicle travelling in the opposite direction.

The case was complicated in that three of the plaintiffs were occupants of the vehicle that was struck by the truck and trailer combination, and were negligent free. The other plaintiffs were the occupant of the pickup truck, and his family. The allegation was that the Dexter Wheel Co. trailer wheels on the trailer were defective in both design and manufacture. According to the plaintiffs, the steel trailer wheels caused the trailer to sway violently and resulted in the ultimate loss of control.  The plaintiffs were represented by a nationally known automobile product liability specialist.

After three weeks of trial, the jury decided that the truck driver was 100% at fault. The jury unanimously concluded that the trailer wheels were not defective and did not cause the accident. The jury delivered an 8-0 defense verdict after less than three hours of deliberation.

The firm’s trial team included Larry Sutter, managing partner, shareholder Jonathan Menuez, who were assisted by associate Dan Leister and legal assistant Ashley Ross.