Yealy v. Ariens Co.
Yealy, 39, was riding on his Ariens Model 912-004 lawn mower. The mower rolled backwards down a hill until it struck the edge of a driveway. It flipped over on its rear wheels and landed blade-first on Yealy’s dominant hand, amputating his fingers.
Yealy owned a carpet-tile installing business, which ad an estimated annual worth of $39,000. Although his fingers were reattached, he lost 90 percent of the use of his hand and can no longer install carpet-tile or perform any work that requires the use of his injured hand.
He sued Ariens, alleging defective design of the mower in that it had had a high center of gravity and had been prone to rollover. Plaintiff claimed that two-thirds of the weight of the mower had been in the rear section. Yealy also alleged that defendant should have installed an operator’s presence control device to stop the engine when plaintiff lost control of the mower.
Defendant denied that operator’s presence control devices had been feasible for the mowers in 1973, the year plaintiff’s lawn mower had been manufactured. In response, plaintiff offered evidence that defendant had begun equipping its mowers with such devices once they had been required by ANSI standards in 1972.
The jury awarded $650,000.
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