Shakespeare’s Richard III is supposed to have lost his kingdom for want of a horseshoe nail, causing a soldier to die and a battle to be lost. A recent jury verdict in Las Vegas appears to have turned on the failure of an equally small part – a screw in an emergency brake mechanism.

An accident occurred when a parked tow truck rolled down a hill and into a busy street while its driver was in a gas station. The driverless truck struck a car on the street, causing it to hit the back end of the plaintiff’s vehicle. The plaintiff claimed that the emergency brake in the tow truck was defective and that its defect was known to the manufacturer.

The key to the case was a ruling by the trial judge directing the jury to find that the parking brake was defective. According to the plaintiff’s theory of the case, a screw inside the brake mechanism broke and caused the brake to fail. The ruling was based upon cross-examination testimony from one of the defendant’s engineers who conceded that the screw was not supposed to break.

The manufacturer argued that the driver had repeatedly put too much force on the brake, but the engineer conceded that the brake was intended to withstand such pressure. The plaintiff also introduced evidence of prior brake failures in other trucks made by the manufacturer. The plaintiff suffered serious back, neck and shoulder injuries, and the jury awarded her a total of $3.4 million.

Anyone who has suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one in an accident caused by a defective product may wish to contact an experienced personal injury attorney for advice on their case. A knowledgeable lawyer can evaluate the evidence and the law that will govern the case and can provide a helpful estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.