Georgia Jury Grants $2M to Daughter of Street Sweeper Driver Crushed by Machine
Four years after the operator of a street sweeper was crushed by the machine, a Georgia jury has awarded the man’s family $2.2 million in damages from the manufacturer.
The jury in Gwinnett County awarded a total of $4.3 million. But that was far less than what the plaintiff had asked for, and it was cut in half because the jurors found that the sweeper operator was partly to blame, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“We considered this a good result for the defense given that (the plaintiff) asked for $25 million and sought punitive damages, and the jury apportioned 49% fault to the decedent, which resulted in a net verdict of $2,167,500 and no punitive damages,” Brannon Arnold, attorney for the manufacturer, told the newspaper.
Orlando Hall, 47, was driving the street sweeper in 2017 when it began smoking. He stopped to inspect the machine and was trying to loosen some debris when he was pinned between the hopper and a hydraulic arm. His leg had inadvertently hit the control switch.
His daughter, Gabrielle Smith, filed a wrongful death suit against Alabama-based Schwarze Industries, the maker of the sweeper.
Smith’s attorneys argued that the machine was poorly designed: The activation controls were placed too close to a crushing hazard with no cover on them to prevent accidental activation. The lawyers also pointed out that another worker in Arizona, Jason Oswald, was killed in a similar incident three years after Hall died, and the manufacturer then redesigned the machine and added covers for the controls.
“Because of this litigation, no one else using an M6 Avalanche street sweeper will suffer the same gruesome fate suffered by Orlando Hall and Jason Oswald,” attorneys said in a statement.
It was not reported if Hall’s family received workers’ compensation benefits after his death.
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