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Trial Reports

MO Lawyers Media Staff//July 19, 1993

Trial Reports

MO Lawyers Media Staff//July 19, 1993

Design Defect – Industrial Trash Compactor

Type of Action: Product liability

Type of Injuries: Fractured jaw, cervical spine surgery, psychological

Court/Case #/Date: St. Louis City Circuit Court/892-10049-Div.1/June 3, 1993

Caption: Matlock v. Midwest Waste, Inc., et al.

Judge or Jury Case: Jury

Name of Judge: Judge Robert Dierker

Damages: $625,000 – past and future lost wages for Donald Matlock, $160,000 for Shirley Matlock, $1.8 million total

Settlement or Verdict: Verdict for defendant

Allocation of Fault: N/A

Highest Settlement Offer: $85,000

Last Demand: $500,000 from Midwest, $250,000 from ECO Systems

Attorneys for Defendant: Ted MacDonald, Steve Jones

Insurance Carrier: EMC Underwriters for Midwest Waste, Travelers Insurance Co. for ECO

Plaintiff’s Experts: Dr. Bud Chomhirun, medical; Richard Hrach, liability

Defendant’s Experts: Dr. Patrick Hogan, Dr. Herbert Rosenbaum

Facts of the Case: Plaintiff caught his head and arm in the lifting arm of an industrial trash compactor while employed at a GM plant. He had two surgeries resulting in fusion at four levels of the cervical spine and claimed a change in personality. Plaintiff claimed the system which was distributed and installed by ECO at GM had a product design defect. Midwest leased the system from ECO and re-leased it to GM.


Wrongful Death – Failure To Warn – Independent Contractor

Type of Action: Wrongful death

Court/Case #/Date: St. Louis City Circuit Court/902-990

Caption: Kitzman v. B.F. Goodrich, Co., Inc. and RJF International Co.

Judge or Jury Case: Jury

Settlement or Verdict: $800,000

Allocation of Fault: 100 percent to RJF International

Attorney for Defendant: Morris B. Chapman

Insurance Carrier: Self-insured

Plaintiff’s Experts: E. Patrick McGuire, William Dunlop

Defendant’s Experts: John Hartmann

Facts of the Case: Decedent was helping his employer install a vinyl gasoline tank cover at a filling station. RJF Industries was the manufacturer and supplier of the cover. While decedent was nailing the vinyl to the vertical sidewall of the excavation, it collapsed and killed him. The plaintiff originally sued RJF Industries and B. F. Goodrich, the predecessor manufacturing company, which had prepared a video showing the liner was to be applied on a vertical sidewall. The station owner was also joined initially, but was dismissed on his motion by virtue of the recent Supreme Court holding that an owner was no longer responsible for the acts of an independent contractor involved in a hazardous undertaking to an employee of the contractor covered by workers’ compensation. The case then proceeded against RJF on the basis of its failure to warn the manufacturer of a product that was not reasonably safe for the use intended. The decedent’s employer was charged and fined because of numerous violations of the code which required sloped or buttressed sides on any excavation exceeding five feet. Decedent was survived by his wife, mother and father.


Partnership Denied – Fraud

Type of Action: Fraud, breach of partnership agreement, conversion

Type of Injuries: Lost value of business

Court/Case #/Date: Jackson County Circuit Court/CV89-022893

Caption: Schreibman v. Zanetti & Katcher

Judge or Jury Case: Jury

Name of Judge: Judge John I. Moran

Damages: $525,000 – value of business; $48,230 – value of fixtures; $75,000 – commissions

Settlement or Verdict: $2,078,230 verdict for plaintiff

Allocation of Fault: N/A

Highest Settlement Offer: $150,000 from defendant Katcher

Last Demand: $450,000

Attorneys for Plaintiff: Scott Mach, Dennis Egan

Insurance Carrier: None

Plaintiff’s Experts: Steven Walter, business valuations

Defendant’s Experts: Joseph Singer, PhD economist

Facts of the Case: Plaintiff and Zanetti were married in 1978 when they entered into a partnership with defendant Katcher to sell giftware in Katcher’s five-state exclusive territory and operate a showroom. Katcher notified plaintiff in 1985 that he was terminating the relationship, and plaintiff demanded his share of the partnership business. Katcher denied partnership. Plaintiff and Zanetti divorced and agreed to split profits in their separation agreement. Zanetti failed to do so.

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