Lori K. O’Tool, partner at Preg O’Donnell & Gillett, PLLC, obtained a defense verdict following a four week wrongful death trial in Spokane County, Washington before Judge Kathleen O’Connor. Lori represented the general contractor, a 100 year old mining and construction company.
The claims arose out of the death of a subcontractor employee during a road improvement project outside of Spokane. The 19 year old decedent and his supervisor were installing sign posts using a utility truck owned by their employer, who was a subcontractor on the project. As the workers were installing the last sign post of the day along the side of the roadway, the truck began to roll down hill. The workers ran after the truck and the decedent caught up to the truck, jumped in the cab, but was unable to bring the truck to a stop. The truck flipped while going around a curve at high speed, went through a guard rail, slid down an embankment and caught fire.

On behalf of the estate, the decedent’s mother filed negligence claims against the general contractor and the company who installed the brake lock on the truck, and product liability claims against the brake lock manufacturer. The damage claims were originally stated at $32 million, but the general damage claims were dismissed following a joint motion for summary judgment by the defendants. The Court dismissed the mother’s individual statutory claim under the provisions of the Wrongful Death Act finding that the mother was not dependent upon her son under the language of the statute and relevant case law. At trial, the mother pursued economic damages of the net monetary accumulations lost to his estate. All defendants presented evidence during the trial that the accident was solely caused by the negligence of the decedent’s supervisor for not properly securing the truck. After a day and a half of deliberations, the jury found no negligence by any of the three defendants and returned a defense verdict as to all.

Lori was supported by associates Rachel Reynolds and Afshin Mazhari.

Lori’s defense verdict is the firm’s 3rd consecutive defense verdict in 2011. Earlier this year, founding member Eric Gillett and associate Rachel Reynolds returned a defense verdict in a Snohomish County trial, and associates Maggie Sweeney and David Chawes returned a defense verdict in a King County trial.

Preg O’Donnell & Gillett’s lawyers have now successfully tried 12 cases in 5 different counties across Washington and Oregon within the last 2 years. 7 cases have been defense verdicts, 4 returned verdicts significantly less than the amount claimed, and in one case the firm recovered approximately 90% of an indemnity claim.