Improperly secured movable soccer goals have long been recognized as a serious safety hazard. Numerous product safety organizations, state and national soccer associations, medical academies, and insurance companies long ago reached the same conclusion: Soccer goal posts must be secured at all times.
Nonetheless, sometime before September 17, 2011, an Oregon youth sports organization chose to disassemble heavy metal soccer goal posts and leave them next to playing fields at a middle school. The goal posts were left in an unsecured area that is fully accessible to children, and only yards away from a nearby soccer field. The organization chose to lean those heavy metal goal posts up against a batting cage. The metal posts were left tipped up against the fencing of the batting cage. There was no cable, chain, lock, or other device to prevent the goal posts from falling over; they were left there without being secured in any manner.
On that day, several little boys started playing next to the batting cage while their sisters played soccer. The mother of a 6-year-old boy saw that her son started to climb up on to a goal post, and told him to get off. He did so immediately, but the unsecured goal post fell on his head, causing a skull fracture that extended into the optic canal behind the child’s left eye. The little boy suffered complete blindness in that eye. We worked with experts in human factors, sports safety, and playground safety to prepare the liability case, and worked with medical experts on vision loss to prepare the damages case. The case eventually had a policy limits settlement for a confidential amount.
Two Central Oregon agricultural businesses made the fatal decision to ignore tractor-trailer safety laws in order to make a profit. On the morning of March 4, 2010, their tractor-trailer lost part of its hay bale load on Highway 58. 37-year-old Gregory Muller was then driving his rig in the opposite direction. The hay bales crashed into Greg’s truck. The cab was demolished, and Greg was crushed. His family was left with an emptiness that will never be filled.
Our investigation and case preparation revealed:
- Defendants’ tractor-trailer was unsafe and had received 23 vehicle safety violations three days before. None had been addressed, much less fixed;
- The defendant driver did not have the experience or the required commercial license to drive the tractor-trailer more than 150 miles, and far exceeded that limit for this trip;
- The load of hay bales were not properly strapped down and were 20,000 lbs the over weight limits; and
- The load had not been properly inspected.
We co-counseled this wrongful death case with Nevada attorney Jack Kennedy. The case was settled at a judicial settlement conference.