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Massachusetts-Based Cybex International Loses $66 Million Personal Injury Case Against Woman Paralyzed by Exercise Machine

A jury has awarded Natalie M. Barnhard $66 million in her personal injury case against Massachusetts-based manufacturer Cybex International and Amherst Orthopedic Physical Center. The 30-year-old former physical therapy assisted became paralyzed six years ago when a Cybex exercise machine fell on her. She is now a quadriplegic.

The catastrophic spinal cord injury accident happened on October 2004 while Barnhard was working at Amherst Orthopedic. As she was doing a shoulder stretch, the leg extension machine fell on top of her and she suffered a spinal cord injury that caused two cervical vertebrae to break and the bones to compress onto her spinal cord. Barnhard says that four people lifted the 500-pound machine off her body.

During the personal injury trial, questions were raised about the design of the exercise machine and its operation. The plaintiffs’ alleged products liability and accused Cybex of providing inadequate warnings, conflicting installation and anchoring instructions, and of failing to warn that the machine could pose a tip-over hazard. Barnhard’s injury lawyers have said that seven other people in the US have been hurt in similar incidents involving Cybex machines.

When awarding their injury verdict, the jury found Cybex 75% liable, Amherst Orthopedic 20% responsible, and Barnhard 5% liable. Cybex, however, continues to maintain that it was not negligent or responsible for Barnhard’s accident. The Massachusetts-based company says that it will appeal the verdict.

Boston Products Liability
Companies that design consumer products that cause serious injury or death to others can be held liable for Boston products liability. Faulty design, manufacturing mistakes, product malfunctions, inadequate instructions, and failure to warn are some reasons why Massachusetts product defect lawsuits are brought. In some cases, the product may have no design or manufacturing flaws and may have worked exactly as intended but still proved to be a danger to users.

NY jury awards $66M to injured physical therapist, The Wall Street Journal, December 9, 2010
Woman crippled by exercise machine wins $66 million, Boston Herald, December 9, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Cybex International

Products Liability, Nolo