Pawn shop sold safety harness with warning tags removed
FACTS & ALLEGATIONS
In August 2001, plaintiff Francisco Sarao, 24, a Mexican citizen, fell 30 feet when his safety harness gave way while he was trimming trees in Weslaco. An investigation determined that Sarao fell because a safety ring broke on the used Buckingham 2000m Lineman’s Belt that his employer had purchased from a Cash America Pawn shop.
Sarao sued Cash America Pawn LP, Fort Worth; Buckingham Manufacturing Co. Inc., New York, and his employer, Juan Florencia, operating as Tree Enhancement Techniques, Santa Rosa, asserting products liability and corporate liability for his workplace injury. Sarao alleged that the used safety harness had been altered, claiming that its bright orange warning labels and instructions had been removed, and that Cash America Pawn sold the harness in the altered state.
The defense contended that Sarao’s fall was due to his own negligence. It argued that Sarao misused the safety belt by attaching his lanyard to the belt’s accessory rings instead of its load-bearing D-rings. The accessory rings were intended to permit safe and easy access to clipped-on tools and were not meant to bear a person’s weight.
Cash America Pawn claimed that Tree Enhancement Techniques was contributorily negligent for failing to provide proper instruction and training to Sarao. Finally, Cash America Pawn argued that they were not responsible for the warnings on the belt since it was sold “as is.”
INJURIES/DAMAGES fracture, T10; permanent partial paralysis Doe was permanently paralyzed from the waist down, a T-10 paraplegic, and is confined to a wheelchair. His past medical specials were $379,000 and his future medical specials were estimated at $4.8 million.
RESULT: Buckingham Manufacturing settled for a confidential amount at mediation. During the third day of trial, Cash America Pawn agreed to pay a confidential amount.
Rob Ammons is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, in addition to being Board Certified in Civil Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Rob Ammons’ law practice, The Ammons Law Firm, is located in Houston, Texas. The Ammons Law Firm practice is exclusively personal injury law, handling such cases as: tire defects, oil rig explosions, truck accidents, plant explosions, refinery accidents, wrongful death, post-collision fires, seat belt defects, airbag defects, SUV rollovers and workplace negligence.