Attorneys Jim Wood and Casey McCaffrey successfully obtained a defense verdict in a two-week trial in Essex Superior Court. The matter involved a man who fell eighty (80) feet while working for a tree-cutting business. At the time of the fall, the plaintiff was being hoisted above trees via a crane. One defendant provided the crane and was operating it. The other defendant, who was represented by Attorneys Wood and McCaffrey, had hired the plaintiff and the crane to cut trees for a homeowner in Hudson, New Hampshire. While the crane was in motion, the plaintiff became disengaged from the crane apparatus and fell to the ground below.
The plaintiff’s claimed injuries included pelvic fractures, lumbar spine fractures, rib fractures, bilateral pneumothorax, laceration to the lung, laceration to the right kidney, laceration on the right side of the skull, labral tear, rotator cuff injuries, PTSD and significant lost earnings. Prior to trial, the plaintiff’s demand was $1.5 million as to both defendants.
The plaintiff alleged that the equipment provided by the defendants was defective. Further, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants negligently allowed him to be connected to a crane to conduct tree cutting activities, negligently failed to use reasonable care and failed to follow proper safety procedures.
Attorneys Wood and McCaffrey presented evidence that plaintiff had used marijuana prior to the accident. Further, they underscored admissions made by the plaintiff following the accident that the fall had been his fault. Defense counsel also raised a causation defense insofar as the plaintiff was unable to pinpoint the cause of his fall, though plaintiff denied detaching himself from the hook of the crane. Defense counsel conducted individual voir dire in this case and filed multiple Motions in Limine including one regarding the applicability of New Hampshire law to some aspects of the case. The plaintiff was precluded from arguing that certain New Hampshire laws and regulations applied. Further, the plaintiff was precluded from arguing that defendants’ actions following the accident constituted spoliation of evidence. Lastly, the plaintiff was precluded from introducing some post-accident medical records on the grounds that same were irrelevant.
During the trial, two OSHA/crane experts testified, as did an expert life care planner. The court limited the experts’ testimony based on Daubert/Lanigan challenges.
The jury deliberated for two and a half hours and returned with a defense verdict.