In a Texas jury trial from January, 2010, the verdict came back in favor of the injured plaintiff in the amount of $56.3 million against a major equipment manufacturer and its distributor.
The plaintiff was paralyzed from the waist down when the machine he was operating, manufactured by Caterpillar, began bouncing up and down uncontrollably from a flaw in the design of which Caterpillar was allegedly aware and had not fixed.
Caterpillar and the co-defendant in the suit – the dealer who sold the equipment were reticent to challenge for a second jury trial and instead offered to settle for more than $9 million, which the plaintiff accepted.
Considering the amount of damages in this case, would the equipment dealer, which did no manufacturing, carry a sufficient limit on its General Liability and Umbrella policies to cover a $10 to $60 million dollar claim? Many clients of The Flanders Group use, sell or service equipment in their operations and reviewing the adequacy of the Umbrella limit is an important step in each renewal.
Your Umbrella policy can be the all important last line of defense for funding the financial liability of your company. Higher limits should always be considered along with understanding the environment for jury verdicts in any jurisdiction in which you might be sued.