On November 22, 2017 an appellate court upheld $3,200,000 of a $7,200,000 verdict awarded to the wife and infant son of a 22 year old man who was killed when a garbage truck he was loading lurched backward and crushed him against a dumpster. The company that serviced the truck's transmission six months before the accident returned it without the required functioning neutral interlock system. That safety system was designed to prevent the truck from going backward while garbage was being loaded.This same defendant unsuccessfully argued that it only had a duty of care to the owner of the truck and not to one of its employees. The Court disagreed explaining that the owner/employer intended to benefit its employees with a safe truck and that the decedent was considered an inferred third party beneficiary.
Medical testimony from the plaintiff's expert informed this Brooklyn jury that the 22 year old worker would have been conscious and suffered pain from rib fractures for 1-2 minutes before dying. This testimony justified an award of $250,000 for pre-impact terror and $750,000 for pain and suffering. The pre-impact terror component awarded by the jury was knocked down from $1,000,000. The decedent's one year old son (at time of death) was allowed to keep $1,000,000 for past and future pecuniary loss (loss of parental guidance). This sum was reduced from the $3,000,000 awarded by the jury. Lost earnings awarded by the jury were sustained at approximately $1,200,000. Vargas v Crown, 2017 WL 5616720