Wrongful Death Involving Tractor
Hazel Lee v. CNH America LLC
Product liability; wrongful death
On July 9, 2013, the Court of Appeals of Georgia affirmed a jury verdict in favor of agricultural manufacturer CNH America LLC (“CNH”) in a wrongful death product liability action originally filed in the State Court of Fulton County. Plaintiff’s decedent was crushed to death after becoming entrapped between the back of his 2007 New Holland TD95D tractor and the attached cultivator implement. Plaintiff alleged that CNH defectively designed, failed to warn and/or provided inadequate warnings for the subject tractor. Plaintiff also made a claim for punitive damages based on CNH’s failure to incorporate certain warnings and design features available on other products at the time the subject tractor was manufactured.
The case was tried by Johnny Krawcheck and Brannon Arnold in August of 2011 in front of the Honorable Fred C. Eady. The jury returned a defense verdict, and Plaintiff appealed the case to the Court of Appeals of Georgia, claiming that the trial court erred in charging the jury on assumption of the risk, misuse of a product and spoliation. Plaintiff also claimed that the trial court erred by allowing a 30(b)(6) defense witness to give expert opinion testimony. Based on the “any evidence” standard of review on appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in its charges and that Plaintiff could not demonstrate prejudice resulting from the alleged opinion testimony offered by the defense witness. See Hazel Lee, Individually and as Executor of the Estate of Robert Alex Lee v. CNH America, LLC, et. al, 2013 WL 3388737 (Ga. Ct. App. 2013).