Mississippi Man Run Over By Lawn Mower While Trying To Escape Yellow Jackets

250px-Grass_dsc08672-nevit250px-European_wasp_white_bgThere is an interesting tort lawsuit out of Jackson, Mississippi where Everardo Garfias is suing Husqvarna Professional Products Inc. and Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A., the maker of his Husqvarna lawnmower after it ran over him. Garfias had just been attacked by yellow jackets when he jumped off his lawnmower. The lawnmower however did not shut off and ran over him — severely cutting his legs and completely severing one of his knee caps. Garfias was working for a lawn service company at the time of the accident.

Kawasaki is seeking a transfer to federal court, presumably on diversity grounds since the company is from a different state.

Often these cases involved defenses of substantial alteration over the years of use and work on a machine. However one report states that Garfias bought the lawnmower less than two months before the accident — making such defenses more difficult. There is also misuse as a defense but foreseeable misuse is considered a legitimate basis for a product liability action in the United States.

These cases can still turn on plaintiff’s conduct question if there was something on the machine that caused it to continue to run. Yet, he will likely argue that there is a design defect in not having a better kill switch system that shuts down the machine if there is no operator. Yellow jackets, debris, and other dangers are common reasons for people to stop mowing. It is therefore foreseeable that such sudden stops will occur in the operation of a mower.

We will try to follow the case, though it could be a couple years from any verdict with a transfer to federal court. Companies tend to prefer federal courts where the judges are viewed by many lawyers as a bit more conservative on tort cases.

Source: CBS

28 thoughts on “Mississippi Man Run Over By Lawn Mower While Trying To Escape Yellow Jackets

  1. Michaelb 1, May 27, 2013 at 10:04 am

    ….the manufacture can be brought into a worker’s compensation case if the product is defective.
    True, and here is an interesting factor in Mississippi:

    When you are injured on the job and the responsible party is not your employer, you may file a personal injury lawsuit against that 3rd party for your losses. You will receive workers compensation while you are unable to work, and your workers compensation carrier will have to pay your medical expenses. In the lawsuit against the third party, you can include these expenses — compensation for wage loss and medical expenses — as part of your claim. However, the workers comp carrier is going to file a lien against your lawsuit. What this basically means is that the workmans compensation carrier is seeking recovery of the money they paid to you, from the proceeds of your lawsuit.

    (Alonzo). If the plaintiff was an employee then a lien will be filed by the WC commission on his lawsuit against the third party.

    Employee or independent contractor status is an important consideration, because if he is not an employee then no lien can be filed.

  2. just observin’ 1, May 27, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Classic “nick”:
    “I’ll show you yours if you show me mine.”


  3. I got stung by a yellow jacket when I was help building a house. Killed it. Didn’t sue anybody.

  4. rafflaw, I’m honored to share a Memorial Day wish to you, a person who understands and respects it.

  5. all mowers built in the last 20- 30 years have multiple safeties. the only issue is who disabled them.

  6. I agree with several others – the driver or his employer deliberately disabled the safety switches. This lawsuit should be thrown out – it’s just a shakedown by a greedy worker and (especially) the lawyer.

  7. If the driver applied for workers comp. and it was granted, he would receive benefits that would be paid back assuming the third party claim of defective equipment prevailed.

    I his workmans comp claim was denied, then no lien could be placed on the thired party defective equipment claim.

    It would seem, then, that it is the first issue that needs resolved.

    There is a two-year statute of limitations on workers comp. claims in Miss.

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