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David M. Paris represented a 56-year-old truck driver who was rendered blind when a plastic wheel from his snow blower exploded during inflation. Our client purchased the snow blower in December 2005 from a local retailer. He used it two or three times over the next season. In January 2007, he noticed that one of the tires was flat. He took the wheel and tire to a local gas station and used the commercial air compressor to inflate the tire. He attached the air hose to the valve and inflated the tire for a few seconds until he believed the bead was seated. He then continued to inflate the tire for another couple of seconds, released the trigger and removed the hose from the valve. While reaching for his manual air gauge, the plastic wheel rim exploded, striking him with plastic shrapnel in the face and eyes. The violent impact of plastic shrapnel on his face has caused him permanent blindness.
The snow blower was manufactured by MTD and sold by Home Depot. A lawsuit was filed against MTD alleging the plastic wheel was defective in the manner in which it was manufactured and constructed; defective by virtue of its inferior design, both structurally and in its chemical composition; and defective because the inflation warnings and instructions related to using a commercial compressor were inadequate. As a result of multiple reports of explosions and consumer injuries, MTD and the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a national recall in October 2006 for 138,000 snow blowers. MTD denied that its plastic wheel was defective in any way and retained several experts to defend the integrity of the product.
In addition, our client sued the retailer, alleging that it had an independent duty to cooperate with the manufacturer and search through its computer databases for customer identification information of purchasers of the recalled snow blowers. The retailer denied that it was negligent in that regard and insisted that posting information about the product recall in its store and on its website satisfied its obligation to help protect the public from future injuries.
Our client incurred medical bills of approximately $70,000 and impaired earnings of approximately $400,000. A life care planning expert opined that his future supportive care was in excess of $1 million. The Defendants retained damage experts to contradict those retained by the Plaintiff.
The case was settled for a confidential amount through private mediation shortly before trial.