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Woman Severs Three Fingers on Defective A.R.E. Truck Bed Cover
On August 8, 2002, Joanna Waller was at home working on her beautiful candy apple red Ford Pickup with its A.R.E. Truck Bedcover. She needed a crowbar from the truck bed so she opened the truck bed cover and got it out. As she stood on the bumper, she reached up with her right hand to lower the cover. She grasped the concave palm grip handle to pull the cover down. Suddenly, the handle rotated closed, pinching her last three fingers in the concave space of the grip handle. Startled, she lost her footing and fell backwards. The three trapped fingers remained pinched in the handle and were traumatically amputated as Joanna fell to the ground. Fortunately, Joanna’s friend was close by, heard her screaming, and rushed her to the emergency room.
Just weeks before this horrific event, Joanna had taken her truck to Johnson GT Sales & Service, where she purchased the A.R.E. cover, to have it serviced. The cover’s locking mechanism and drivetrain were lubricated and realigned. During the service, Joanna was not told about any prior customer complaints regarding the palm grip handle. She also was not told about a recall that A.R.E had instituted several months earlier to replace the concave palm grip handle with a ribbed or solid-backed handle that would have prevented Joanna’s fingers from becoming entrapped.
Joanna came to Denena & Points and met with Tony Denena to see what could be done about her situation. She had mounting medical bills and knew that she would have permanent impairment and disfigurement as a result of her injuries. After investigating the case, Tony agreed to prosecute her claims against all three defendants.
Joanna sued all defendants for ordinary negligence, strict liability, defectively designing the palm grip handle, breach of warranty, and failure to warn of the known dangers of the handle and of the recall which would have prevented the amputation of her three fingers.
The traumatic amputation was horribly painful, but the worst part was the aftermath. All three were reattached by Dr. Thomas O. Shannon, a reconstructive plastic surgeon, in the Emergency Room at Conroe Regional Medical Center. She had to undergo additional surgical intervention when the right small finger did not regain adequate blood supply and had to be permanently amputated. Her right ring and middle fingers regained adequate blood supply, but had to be fused at the joint. It took months to rehabilitate the fingers and resume some semblance of normalcy in her life. Today, Joanna has very limited use of the two re-attached fingers, suffers from numbness in all three digits and phantom pains.
Just prior to trial, all parties mediated the case in front of Nancy Huston and were able to reach an amicable, but confidential settlement.
Awarded: Confidential Settlement