Caterpillar Settles With Paraplegic Texas Man Who Claimed Injuries From Earth Mover

Caterpillar Settles With Paraplegic Texas Man Who Claimed Injuries From Earth MoverIn the process of appealing one of last year’s largest personal injury awards, Caterpillar, Inc. has agreed to put an end to the litigation by settling with the paraplegic plaintiff for $9 million.

Alfonso Lopez claimed that he was using a Caterpillar Wheel Tractor 623 G Scraper in August 2006 when the machine suddenly started bouncing up and down, according to Bloomberg. The machine’s bouncing motion caused the seat to fail, causing Lopez to fall off and slamming his body against the frame, the suit said. In addition to a punctured lung, the impact caused Lopez to sustain a spinal injury that has resulted in him becoming paralyzed from the waist down, according to his personal injury lawsuit.

When Lopez initially filed the suit, his personal injury attorneys claimed that Caterpillar knew of defects in the Scraper but failed to address them. Jurors reportedly ordered Caterpillar and the dealership that sold the allegedly defective machine to Lopez’s employer to pay $15.8 million in actual damages and $40.5 million in punitive damages, but the trial judge lowered this award to comply with Texas limits to punitive damage awards.

Caterpillar was in the process of appealing the amended $24.4 million verdict when the company decided to put an end to the litigation by settling out of court with Lopez for $9 million, sources familiar with the case told the news provider.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond in Virginia, described Caterpillar’s decision as “the path of least resistance,” explaining that he believes the company wanted to avoid the uncertainty of waiting for the outcome of the appeal.

According to the company website, Caterpillar produces more than 300 machines, including various earth movers, loaders, harvesters, compactors and other construction machinery.