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Confidential Settlement After Worker Thrown from Aerial Boom Lift

A safety equipment company manufactured and marketed a personal fall protection device for boom lift operators that attached the operator to the boom lift’s basket to prevent falls. Unfortunately, the equipment did not prevent the user from being catapulted from the boom lift basket, a known hazard of operating a boom lift. Consequently, a man using the personal fall safety equipment was catastrophically injured when a workplace accident threw him from his boom lift in a catapult event.

In this case, the plaintiff was an experienced employee at an equipment rental company. Filling a customer order, he drove a boom lift from a loading platform to a flatbed truck, preparing to transport it to one of his customers. The plaintiff wore his personal fall protection equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Suddenly, the boom lift dropped between the platform and the trailer he was loading. The downward force on the front of the lift traveled up the boom, creating an upward force similar to how catapults work.

The plaintiff and others in the industry believed that the personal fall protection equipment would protect the person wearing it and prevent them from being catapulted from the basket. In this case, however, the plaintiff’s safety equipment did not function as expected, and the catapult event launched the plaintiff out of the boom lift basket. Worse, the personal fall protection equipment swung him back toward the basket, causing his head to strike the boom lift. The unconscious operator hung below the basket, gravely injured, until his coworkers freed him. He suffered a catastrophic TBI, requiring a craniotomy, craniectomy, and multiple serious orthopedic procedures. Ultimately, he was left unable to work or live without full-time help again and requiring medical treatment for the rest of his life.

Emily Ruby of Greenberg and Ruby Injury Attorneys began representing the plaintiff shortly after the incident. She was perfect for the case due to her extensive experience handling complicated and serious work injury cases. She was determined to seek justice for the plaintiff and his wife, who had filed a loss of consortium claim.

Emily and her team determined that the safety equipment may not have malfunctioned, which made for a more complex liability argument. Two experts were crucial to help prove liability: an OSHA expert and a more technical expert with knowledge of the specific fall equipment in question. Emily knew that technical testimonies could be hard for members of a jury to visualize on their own, so she turned to DK Global for a visual aid to augment the case. The Plaintiff’s team worked with DK Global to show that the equipment should never have been marketed as being able to protect a boom lift operator, specifically because of the known risk of a catapult type event. They needed a visual aid showing that the plaintiff was using the equipment in accordance manufacturer’s instructions, and yet still suffered catastrophic injuries.

The video that DK Global produced was a multimedia presentation that began with a 3D animated recreation of the incident. The Plaintiff was depicted driving the aerial boom lift along a platform when the front wheels dropped over the edge. The Plaintiff was catapulted over the front of the basket, then yanked backward, slamming his head on the bottom of the platform. Next, the manufacturer’s marketing and instructions were shown. The animation also showed alternative safety devices that were more appropriate for use in a boom lift. The video then showed the reconstruction animation from a different angle, alongside photographs of the plaintiff’s catastrophic injuries. Next, the presentation showed video of the Plaintiff’s expert team recreating the catapult event with a dummy, demonstrating again that the device was inappropriate for a boom lift operator. Finally, the video played testimony of other key people. The video ended with another play-through of the reconstruction animation.

Emily litigated the case for years. The case ultimately resolved with a confidential settlement.

Emily Ruby is the owner and lead trial attorney at Greenberg and Ruby Injury Attorneys in Los Angeles, California. A 2022 “Women in Law” Award Winner, Emily specializes in complex cases involving catastrophic injuries and fatalities. She is a fierce advocate for her clients, many of whom are victims of tragic workplace injuries and deaths. She has personally obtained more than $78.6 million in compensation for her clients with a stellar 97.4% success rate.

"That was the whole goal – to take something that could be complicated and could be very technical and have it just visually conveyed in a way that really any person could understand."
Emily Ruby – Greenberg and Ruby Injury Attorneys, APC
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