UPDATE: Jury Awards $56.3 Million Against Caterpillar Inc. and Holt Texas

Safety takes lead role as attorney Mark Lanier triumphs in court for injured construction worker

(NOTE: This release contains updated verdict information.)

Jan 29, 2010, 16:39 ET from The Lanier Law Firm

SAN ANTONIO, Jan. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- The Lanier Law Firm is announcing a $56.3 million verdict against Peoria, Ill-based Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) and San Antonio-based Holt Texas Ltd. after a jury finding that defects and lax maintenance led to a construction worker being paralyzed while using a piece of Caterpillar equipment.

Attorneys Mark Lanier, founder of The Lanier Law Firm, and Frank Herrera Jr. of The Herrera Law Firm represented Alfonso Lopez, 38, and his family in claims that Caterpillar failed to inform Mr. Lopez about defects in the company's 623 G Wheel Tractor Scraper. Holt Texas faced claims that the company failed to perform proper maintenance on the machinery.

In 2006, Mr. Lopez was operating the scraper at a construction site in Little Elm, Texas. The scraper began shaking violently and bucking uncontrollably, causing Mr. Lopez to suffer vertebrae fractures and permanent paralysis below the waist even though he was wearing a seatbelt. An examination of the tractor's "black box" revealed several mechanical malfunctions that led to the incident.

"Juries will always hold corporate America responsible for putting profits over safety," says Mr. Lanier. "Caterpillar and others need to alert the public when problems arise, rather than crossing their fingers in hopes no one gets hurt."

During the 12-day trial, Mr. Lanier asked jurors to award damages based on the defective design, manufacturing and marketing of the Caterpillar 623 G Wheel Tractor Scraper. Mr. Lanier also asked for damages from Holt Cat of Texas for negligently maintaining the scraper.

Jurors awarded $15,860,368 in actual damages, assessing 90 percent responsibility against Caterpillar and 10 percent against Holt Texas. The jury also awarded $40 million against Caterpillar and $500,000 against Holt Texas in punitive damages.

With offices in Los Angeles, Palo Alto, Houston and New York, The Lanier Law Firm is committed to addressing client concerns with effective and innovative solutions in courtrooms across the country. The firm is composed of outstanding trial attorneys with decades of experience handling cases involving pharmaceutical liability, asbestos exposure, intellectual property, business litigation, product liability, toxic exposure and maritime law.

For more information, please contact J.D. Cargill at 713-659-5200.

Docket number: 2007-CI-1586

SOURCE The Lanier Law Firm