New York Senior Counsel Robert W. F. Beckmann Secures Unanimous Defense Verdict Following Jury Trial in West Virginia

December 2023

The Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani New York Product Liability team, including Senior Counsel Robert W. F. Beckmann, successfully obtained a unanimous defense verdict following a two-day jury trial in the Circuit Court of Harrison County, West Virginia on behalf of an international manufacturer and national retailer. 

The plaintiff sought recovery for severe and permanent burn injuries he sustained while using a turkey fryer during a pre-Thanksgiving family vacation. According to the plaintiff, he was using the turkey fryer’s stand component to lower a turkey into the fryer when the stand broke, causing the bird to fall into the hot oil and scald the plaintiff’s arm. The plaintiff sued the retailer, alleging that the fryer was defectively designed and manufactured.

During the trial, Mr. Beckmann successfully established that the plaintiff’s negligence, and not any alleged product defect, proximately caused his accident. The plaintiff relied on the testimony of an expert welder who opined that the method used to weld the turkey stand was deficient and led to its failure. Through intense cross-examination of the plaintiff and his expert, as well as the testimony of the defendant’s mechanical engineering expert, Mr. Beckmann demonstrated that the subject stand was not defectively welded. Additionally, he showed that its design complied with industry standards. Mr. Beckmann also successfully disputed the plaintiff’s version of events by eliciting inconsistent testimony from the plaintiff’s girlfriend that supported a finding that the plaintiff misused the fryer and thereby caused his own injuries.

After the trial concluded, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict, finding that the plaintiff failed to meet his burden of proof and, therefore, was not entitled to any relief. This successful outcome results from the outstanding strategy, support, and tireless efforts of the entire New York Product Liability team, especially team leader Gregg D. Minkin, Partner Joseph T. Rivera, Jr., Associate Brianna S. Pryce, Associate Max H. Trembitsky, and paralegal Julia Lord