Jury rules in favor of mower manufacturer in case of killed city worker

Published 3:05 pm Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A jury ruled in favor of a mower manufacturer last week in a trial at the Chilton County Courthouse, denying the plaintiff’s claims that a Thorsby city worker’s death was caused by an unreasonably unsafe piece of equipment.

Rebecca B. McDonald and Jimmy Wayne McDonald sued Kubota Manufacturing Corporation of America, which made a mower that was being operated by Jeremy Wayne McDonald when he died in 2009.

The trial began on March 6, and a defendant’s verdict was issued on March 22.

“Kubota would like to thank the jury for its hard work in achieving a unanimous and correct verdict in this matter,” Bruce Shanahan, associate general counsel for Kubota, said in a statement. “Kubota understands that the trial took several weeks and as such was an imposition on the daily lives of jurors but appreciates the dedication the jury showed in analyzing the evidence of the case.”

The family of Jeremy Wayne McDonald filed suit on June 7, 2010, against the mower’s manufacturer and local distributor, according to court records.

Clanton Tractor and Equipment, which sold the mower to the city of Thorsby, reached a settlement with the plaintiffs on Feb. 8, before the case went to trial. The terms of that settlement haven’t been released.

Part of the plaintiff’s allegations were that the mower McDonald was operating at the time of his death did not feature a “roll-over protection structure,” which are common in newer model mowers. The complaint reads that the mower was “unreasonably dangerous” and that McDonald wasn’t warned of the danger.

The plaintiff sought punitive damages in an undetermined amount.

Judge Ben Fuller presided over the trial.