Holton and Taylor were in an Altec AA600 aerial bucket truck when its leveling cable snapped. The bucket fell off the truck, throwing the men out. Holton fell about 28 feet to the ground. Taylor grabbed onto a utility pole, hitting his head against a cross member.
Holton, 52, fractured his right hip and forearm and allegedly sustained torn cartilage in his right knee. He incurred medical expenses totaling about $44,000. While undergoing vocational rehabilitation, he suffered a heart ailment that required bypass surgery. Holton, a powerline worker who had been earning about $24,000 annually, has been unable to return to work.
Taylor, 45, suffered a concussion with a peripheral auditory lesion on the right side. He was hospitalized for two days and incurred medical expenses of about $7,000. He suffers from vertigo and hearing and memory loss. Taylor, a powerline worker who had been earning about $35,000 annually, was unable to work for two weeks.
Holton and Taylor and their wives sued the truck manufacturer, alleging that the truck’s leveling-cable system had been defectively designed in that it employed an undersized pulley block. Plaintiffs contended that the block had subjected the cable to excessive bending fatigue. Additionally, plaintiffs maintained that the cable lacked internal lubrication to reduce bending fatigue and had inadequate strength to withstand the stress of use on the truck. Plaintiffs also asserted that the truck had lacked a fail-safe device to prevent the bucket from falling if the cable broke.
Metallurgical examination revealed that about 50 of the cable’s strands had suffered fatigue failure before the cable snapped.
Plaintiffs also sued the equipment leasing company that owned the truck, alleging negligent failure to maintain it. Plaintiffs contended that the company had inadequately inspected and lubricated the cable.
The parties settled before trial for $1.35 million. The manufacturer paid $1 million, and the leasing company contributed the remainder. Holton and his wife received $810,000; Taylor and his wife received $540,000