Verdicts: Richardson v. Marathon Letourneau

Manufacturer of Dangerous Loader Settles On Eve of Trial

Quinn Richardson and Paul Martin worked for a salvage company. They were sent by their employer to dismantle an enormous industrial loader so that the parts could be shipped back to the company and sold.

Richardson was an apprentice and Martin was his supervisor. After the men elevated and blocked the front wheels of the loader, Mr. Richardson began removing the right front wheel and tire. The wheel was a rare split-rim type. He mistakenly removed most of the bolts which held the two halves of the wheel together. Then, when he could not get the final bolts off, he started burning them with a torch.

After Mr. Richardson had removed 47 of the 48 bolts and had burned ½ of the last bolt off, the 7,000-pound tire exploded off the hub, hitting him head on and killing him. Junk from inside of the tire (rubber bladder, sand, water, etc.) flew out and hit Mr. Martin, causing an eye injury and brain damage.

Biren Law Group developed a theory that the product (the wheel) was defective because it had two types of bolts, leading to Mr. Richardson's confusion. The defendant, which originally claimed it would never make an offer because the accident was solely caused by the workers, settled on the eve of trial for a significant confidential amount estimated to be more than half a billion of dollars.