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Gaddy v. Terex Corp.

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

April 26, 2017

JEFFREY GADDY, Plaintiff,
v.
TEREX CORPORATION, et al. Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants Terex Corporation (“Terex Corp.), Terex South Dakota, Inc. (“Terex SD”), and Terex Utilities, Inc.'s (“Terex Utilities”) (collectively, “Terex” or the “Terex Defendants”) Motion for Partial Summary Judgment Regarding the Non-Party Fault of Ace Tree Surgery [321] (“Motion”).

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Facts

         This is a products liability action stemming from the failure of a 2002 Terex Hi-Ranger XT 60/70 boom, Serial No. 2021020554 (the “Subject Boom Truck”), an aerial lift device. Terex XT aerial devices are commonly utilized by tree trimming companies. The Subject Boom Truck consisted of a lower boom, upper boom, and bucket, as depicted in the following diagram:

         (Image Omitted)

         On April 9, 2014, Plaintiff Jeffrey Gaddy (“Plaintiff”) was in the bucket of the Subject Boom Truck when the lower boom stub fractured, causing Plaintiff to fall to the ground. Plaintiff suffered spinal injuries resulting in paraplegia. Plaintiff claims Terex negligently manufactured and designed the Subject Boom Truck, and that it failed to warn him of certain dangers.

         On April 30, 2003, Non-Party Ace Tree Surgery, Inc. (“Ace”) purchased the Subject Boom Truck. (Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Material Facts [321.2] (“DSMF”) ¶ 3; Pl.'s Resp. to DSMF [339.1] (“R-DSMF”) ¶ 3). From 2003 through the date of the accident, the Subject Boom Truck was operated almost exclusively by Plaintiff. (DSMF ¶ 4; R-DSMF ¶ 4). The Subject Boom Truck had a maximum rated load capacity of 350 lbs, which was typical in the industry. (DSMF ¶ 8; R-DSMF ¶ 8). When calculating the load placed in the bucket, a user must consider (1) the weight of the operator; (2) the weight of the liner; (3) the weight of any tools; and (4) the weight of any debris that may have gathered in the bucket. (Id.). Plaintiff weighed approximately 330 lbs during his use of the Subject Boom Truck. (DSMF ¶ 9; R-DSMF ¶ 9). Terex contends that, when considering Plaintiff's weight and the weight of the equipment in the bucket, the amount of weight or load consistently and routinely placed in the subject bucket for 11 years was 430 lbs, which exceeded the rated load capacity by approximately 80 lbs.[1] (DSMF ¶ 10). Plaintiff claims that Ace did not know that the Terex-required liner must be factored into the load capacity, which caused the load capacity consideration to be off by 50 lbs. (R-DSMF ¶ 34). Plaintiff claims that “Terex's instruction to factor in the weight of the mandatory bucket liner in the load capacity appears only on in [sic] one clause or one sentence one [sic] page of its Owner's Manual.” (R-DSMF ¶ 8).

         The American National Standards Institute (“ANSI”) sets forth the standards for the design, use and operation of vehicle-mounted elevating and rotating aerial devices, such as the Subject Boom Truck. (DSMF ¶ 11; R-DSMF ¶ 11). Specifically, Section 8 of ANSI A92.2 (2001) (the “ANSI Standard”) sets forth the responsibilities of owners of this equipment and Section 9 provides the responsibilities of users. (Id.). The ANSI Standard provides that owners have a responsibility to be familiar with the use and operation of the subject aerial device, including the Operator's Manual. (DSMF ¶ 14; R-DSMF ¶ 14).

         The Operator's Manual for the Subject Boom Truck contains the following warning requiring the user not to exceed the rated load capacity:

         (Image Omitted)

         (DMSF ¶ 17; R-DSMF ¶ 17).[2] The Operator's Manual also provides that the operator should “[n]ever exceed the rated loaded of the platform. Know the total weight; including the operator, platform liner, tools, and equipment, and/or other items before entering platform.” (DSMF ¶ 18; R-DSMF ¶ 18). The Subject Boom Truck itself also had two decals on it warning users that death or serious injury “will” occur if the machine is used beyond its rated capacity:

         (Image Omitted)

         (DSMF ¶¶ 19, 20; R-DSMF ¶¶ 19, 20).

         Prior to the accident, Ace was aware that applicable standards required it not to exceed the rated load capacity for its equipment, and that overloading the buckets could lead to the exact problem that occurred in this case. (DSMF ¶32; R-DMSF ¶ 32). It is undisputed that, had Ace not overloaded the bucket of the Subject Boom Truck for 11 years, the boom would not have fractured on April 9, ...


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