Equipment Depot is an equipment sales and rental company with operations in nine states. The company sells, services, rents and provide parts and training for leading brands of forklifts, aerial lifts and construction equipment.
Taylor | Anderson lawyers represented Equipment Depot in defending against a wrongful death claim brought by the surviving spouse and children of Tri Tran. Mr. Tran was fatally crushed due to his inadvertent actuation of a scissor lift while working at The Dannon Company’s yogurt plant in Fort Worth, Texas.
The plaintiffs brought gross negligence claims against Dannon, Mr. Tran’s employer; products liability claims against Skyjack, Inc., the manufacturer of the lift; and negligence, negligent undertaking, and gross negligence claims against Equipment Depot, asserting it failed to identify and report certain alleged safety hazards when it serviced the lift on three sporadic occasions, the last time roughly 100 days before the accident.
The plaintiffs settled with Dannon and Skyjack in 2012, and then proceeded to trial against Equipment Depot in March 2013. After a three-week trial, the jury returned an 11-to-1 “no liability” verdict in favor of Equipment Depot and placed sole responsibility for the accident on Dannon, a designated responsible third party. The trial court initially entered a take-nothing judgment on the verdict, but then granted the plaintiffs’ motion for new trial on factual sufficiency grounds, then granted a motion for reconsideration setting aside the new trial order, and then granted the motion for new trial again. Equipment Depot filed petitions for writ of mandamus with the Second Court of Appeals at Fort Worth and the Texas Supreme Court; both were denied without detailed opinions issued.
The re-trial began on January 26, 2015, and ended two-and-a-half weeks later with the plaintiffs asking the jury to award damages in excess of $20 million. The jury in the re-trial found Mr. Tran 20% responsible for the accident and Dannon 80% responsible. Like the first jury, the second jury also returned an 11-to-1 “no liability” verdict in favor of Equipment Depot.