Deborah Eckland represented Schweiss Doors, Inc. in Willert v. Stockwell Construction, Inc., 2001 WL 34726582 (Minn. Ct. App. 2001). Deborah’s client was the manufacturer of a 3,000 lb. bi-fold door that fell and killed one individual and injured another. The plaintiffs claimed the door was defective as designed. Plaintiffs also claimed the door fell as a result of the negligent installation by the contractor, Stockwell.
The evidence did not bear out a defect in the door manufactured by Schweiss. The evidence did, however, prove Stockwell’s negligence. He had used four-inch nails and a nail gun to secure the door to the 12-inch wooden beam, instead of 14-inch bolts that go all the way through the beam and are secured by nuts on either end.
After several inspections, numerous days of depositions, heated motion practice and an intense day of mediation, plaintiffs and Schweiss reached a nuisance value settlement. Plaintiffs went on to try the case against Stockwell. The jury awarded $3.5 million.