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Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C.

HM&M Client Awarded $20M After Loss of Eye—Jury Rules Willful and Wanton Misconduct

Posted on in Personal Injury

.b2ap3_thumbnail_2000-kenworth-t800-wrecker-tow-truck-trucks-in-new-hampton-ia.jpgOn Jan. 23, 2012, Hurley McKenna & Mertz client, Quentin Ravizza was driving a 1997 Kenworth T-800 tow truck in a southwest suburb of Chicago. After detecting a mechanical error, he pulled over to assess the problem. While looking under the hood, a gust of wind slammed the hood closed, with the force of almost 1,000 pounds. It fell directly onto Mr. Ravizza’s head. He suffered severe facial fractures and the loss of his right eye.

The Hurley, McKenna & Mertz team proved that PACCAR, Inc. was negligent in its design and manufacture of the 1997 Kenworth T-800 truck because there was no adequate safety feature to prevent an unintended closure of the hood. But HM&M didn’t stop at poor design. The team presented damning evidence that PACCAR headquarters knew of similar life-threatening incidents dating back to the 1980’s, and still chose to do nothing about it.

Back in 1991 a Conoco driver, Greg Ragle, observed the involuntary hood-closure as a serious safety issue and invented a solution. He designed and produced an easily installable safety bar to hold the hood open. The invention reached PACCAR’s chief engineer, and he assured Ragle that the design had merit and would be installed on Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks in the future.

However, the company chose not to incorporate the safety device on older truck models for the sake of profit. As a result, Mr. Ravizza lost his eye, and hundreds of thousands of truck drivers are still at risk of serious injury or death.

On June 28th, 2017, a jury awarded Mr. Ravizza $20 million in damages. They sent a clear message— Cutting corners around safety in order to save money is immoral and will not be tolerated

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