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SAN FRANCISCO, May 18, 2012 – It took a federal jury just 10 hours of deliberations to return a unanimous verdict and award a Brentwood man and his wife $11.4 million for personal injuries he suffered in a 2007 crash caused by defective front hubs on a garbage truck he was driving.
Raymond Mariolle was a Teamster driver operating a garbage truck for Waste Management at the Livermore airport on Oct. 29, 2007 when the right front hub of the truck fractured and the right front wheel fell off. Mariolle, who was 46 at the time of the accident, suffered a compression injury to his spine and could not work for 10 months following the accident. Mariolle returned to work under full and later modified duties, but by August of 2010 he was physically unable to work. Later that year, he underwent three surgeries, but their success was limited. Mariolle remains in constant pain and will require additional surgeries in the future.
In the lawsuit filed by his attorneys Gary B. Roth and John M. Anton of Boxer & Gerson LLP of Oakland, it was alleged that the front hub was defective and that the garbage truck manufacturer and the component parts manufacturer were negligent, were aware of safety issues with the aluminum hubs, and did not warn the users of the danger. In addition to Volvo Truck, which built the cab and chassis, the complaint named Consolidated Metco (ConMet), the manufacturer of the aluminum front hubs, and Wittke Manufacturing, the modifier of the truck. During the trial, the defendants argued that Waste Management had overloaded the trucks and should have detected cracks in the hubs, which could have prevented Mariolle’s injuries. In reaching their verdict, the jury allocated 52% of the fault in the case to ConMet, 30% of the fault to Volvo Truck, 12% of the fault to Wittke, and 6% to Waste Management.
“I am ecstatic for my client and extremely gratified with the jury’s verdict,” said attorney Gary B. Roth, of Boxer & Gerson LLP. “My client deserves this because of the suffering he and his wife will be living with for the rest of their lives.”
The $11.4-million award includes approximately $2.4 million for future medical expenses and loss of earning capacity. The jury awarded Mr. Mariolle $7.5 million for pain and suffering and $1.5 million for his wife’s loss of consortium.
The main allegation was that the aluminum hubs were overrated and that the defendants knew that 15,000 to 25,000 hubs were already in service in trucks across the United States and that there had been a number of failures due to overloading. During the trial, the Mariolles’ attorneys argued that in spite of the knowledge that the hubs were unsafe, neither ConMet nor Volvo Truck sought to warn the public that the aluminum hubs were defective or notify users of the risk of failure due to overloading during normal use.
The verdict reached by a jury of four women and four men on May 18 ended a three-week trial before U.S. District Court Judge Maxine Chesney in San Francisco that included testimony from 27 witnesses.