Defendants Crown, Jefferds Win Liability Case

CHARLESTON—A Kanawha County Circuit Court jury ruled that defendants Crown Equipment Corp. and Jefferds Corp. were not at fault for a lift truck accident that occurred in 2002.

As first reported in the West Virginia Record, a jury in Charleston ruled that the Crown lift truck was not defective at the time of its manufacturing and that the plaintiff, Jeremiah Morris, was not entitled to an award. Doctors were forced to amputate Morris’s lower left leg following the accident at an Alcoa factory in Virginia.

Attorneys for Morris based their case on the fact that the stand-up lift truck should have had a door to confine the driver during the products liability trial several weeks back. The defendants, however, said that federal regulatory agencies have rejected that theory.

The case has taken many twisted turns since it began in 2004, going so far as to reach the United States Supreme Court.

Judge Tod Kaufman in the Kanawha County court initially dismissed it based on a West Virginia law stating that circumstances leading to the litigation needed to have occurred in West Virginia. In 2006, the state Supreme Court ruled that the law was unconstitutional and enabled Morris to continue his case.

West Virginia legislators revised the venue law giving latitude to judges on where a case should be heard. At that point, attorneys for defendants Crown and Jefferds appealed unsuccessfully to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined an opportunity to review the matter.

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