BACKHOE ACCIDENT – HEAVY EQUIPMENT ACCIDENT

Case 580L Backhoe Defect or Bad Maintenance? Wrongful Death Lawsuit filed when the Bucket of a Case 580L Backhoe Swings Suddenly and Unexpectedly Killing Worker

The  backhoe accident occurred on August 1, 1997, while Efren Rivera was working at the Frito-Lay facility located in Fort Bend County, Texas. During the course and scope of his employment with Haskell Corporation, Plaintiff, and co-workers Lopez and Serrano, were located in a ten foot hole assisting in the excavation of same by leveling and cleaning the bottom of the hole and shoveling dirt into the bucket of the backhoe. While Plaintiff was located in the hole with his co-workers, with no advance warning, the Case 580 L backhoe bucket suddenly swung backhoe around and hit Plaintiff in the head, causing him to sustain severe head injuries which resulted in his death. One threshold issue concerns what was the operator doing at the time of the accident that may have caused the backhoe to swing to the left and strike Efren Rivera. The operator of the backhoe was John Scimone, a twenty year old son of the job supervisor Richard Scimone. Of the two, only John Scimone was present at the time of the accident. According to John Scimone, he had his feet off the pedals at the time the accident and the machine moved suddenly and without warning.

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His explanation of the backhoe accident is contrary to the laws of physics and cannot be repeated. The Case representative and all the experts in this products liability lawsuit agree that his version cannot be accurate. The Case 580L backhoe will swing left or right depending on which foot pedal is depressed. The speed of the swing is also dependent on how far down the pedal is depressed. The maximum system pressure to operate the swing mechanism is several hundred p.s.i. The maximum system pressure to operate the Case backhoe bucket and boom operations is several thousand p.s.i. When both valves are opened and one stops suddenly the bucket or boom operation, there is a surge in the boom swing speed. This boom swing speed surge was a known by Case to be characteristic of the Case 580L. On the Case 580K, the is swing speed surge protector that will prevent or at least depress the surge. Additionally, when the bucket is fully engaged, (i.e.reaches is maximum), then the p.s.i. in the system will continue at that high pressure and the swing will surge as well.

BACKHOE MAINTENANCE AT ISSUE

In this case, the Case 580L backhoe was poorly maintained and in poor condition with a sticking hand control fort the bucket. This meant that the bucket tended to bottom out and the swing speed would surge. Additionally, the foot pedals were set unevenly with the left not activating until being depressed almost 3 ½ inches while the right activated within ½ inch. This resulted in inconsistent operation of the swing speed from equal depression of the foot pedals. Plaintiff’s expert opinion is that the Case backhoe was not set to specifications, that it had numerous setting errors that he would not have accepted it on a job site and that the backhoe would surge when one of two activated controls was released.

A confidential settlement was reached by all parties in this case. Plaintiffs were represented by the Willis Law Firm and McDowell-Collmer Firm, both of Houston, Texas. 

BACKHOE LAWSUIT- PRODUCT LIABILITY LEGAL ACTIONS

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