SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO – Utility Trailer says a jury has confirmed its trailers manufactured without side underride guards are not defective.
However, the trailer manufacturer was still found 45% liable for a crash that saw a crash victim’s family awarded US$42 million. The driver, Reilly Hein, was killed in 2015 after he lost control of his car, hit the side of a tractor pulling a Utility trailer, bounced into a concrete jersey wall and then caromed back under the side of the trailer. An inattentive truck driver dragged the car under the trailer wheels for half a mile.
“Utility expresses its condolences to the Hein family for their loss. Utility is committed to building and putting a safe trailer on the road and focuses on safety every single day,” the trailer maker said in a statement.
The Aug. 23 jury verdict, Hein vs Utility Trailer, rejected the Hein family’s attempts to put the trailer industry on trial and declare all trailers defective for failure to include a side underride guard, Utility noted. The jury determined that Utility’s trailers were not defective, finding they did not “present an unreasonable risk of injury.”
“Utility Trailer does not believe it negligently designed, tested, or manufactured its trailers,” the company said in a statement. “Utility Trailer presented uncontroverted evidence that adding a side-underride guard to its trailers would make the trailers more dangerous to the motoring public. Utility Trailer noted that plaintiffs’ lawyers had acted improperly throughout the trial and believe that these improprieties are reversible error and warrant a new trial. Utility Trailer is exploring its appellate options as it awaits final entry of judgment.”