Products Liability Team Achieves Defense Verdict in Riding Lawnmower Personal Injury Case


February 15, 2013

Chicago, IL - On January 24, 2013, Segal McCambridge's Bob O'Malley and Misty Martin achieved a jury verdict for the defense in Malen v. MTD Products, a personal injury case.  Plaintiff filed suit in 2005 after suffering a serious foot injury from the blade of a "reconditioned" riding lawnmower he purchased from Home Depot in 2001.  He claimed that the operator presence control (OPC) on the mower seat was defective in design and manufacture. Further, Malen claimed that if the OPC had been designed differently, he would not have been injured when he allegedly slipped when exiting the mower seat.

The evidence at trial showed that the accident was the fault of the Plaintiff, and that he may have also been responsible for disconnecting the OPC.  After three hours of deliberation, the jury found in favor of Plaintiff on his negligence claims against Home Depot, but assigned 90% of the fault against Plaintiff, 10% against Home Depot, and zero against Segal McCambridge's client, MTD Products.  The jury found in favor of defendants on the strict liability claims.

The trial, which had been bifurcated to address liability claims only, was in Federal Court in front of Judge Charles Norgle.  In 2008, summary judgment was entered in favor of defendants, but it was later overturned on appeal in 2010.