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Last Updated August 29, 2022

Wyoming Jury Rules in Favor of Omni Group in Products Liability Case: Tyson & Mendes Wins Major Defense Verdict in High Stakes Lawsuit

Cheyenne, Wyoming (June 21, 2022) – Marking a victory for national civil litigation defense firm Tyson & Mendes LLP in a high-profile products liability lawsuit, a Wyoming jury has returned a verdict in favor of Virginia-based Omni Group, a product manufacturer.

The case, Sara Puskarich v. BNSF Railway v. Graham-White Manufacturing, held in United States District Court, District of Wyoming, marked a third-party defense verdict for Tyson & Mendes, with the jury rejecting the plaintiff’s $7 million damages claim.

According to Michael Drews, lead attorney for the defense and managing partner of Tyson & Mendes’ Denver office, the plaintiff – in a Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) matter – claimed to be permanently disabled and unable to work as the result of a workplace injury and sued her former employer BNSF Railway for failing to provide a reasonably safe place to work.

“While the plaintiff was releasing the handbrake on a coal railcar in Gillette, Wyoming, she alleged the tool she was using broke and struck her in the forehead, causing a moderate traumatic brain injury,” Drews said. “In turn, BNSF Railway sued our client, Graham-White Manufacturing d/b/a Omni Group – which designed and manufactured the safety tool she was using (the Omni Sidekick Brake Stick), designed to allow railroaders to stay on the ground to release and apply handbrakes on railcars.”

At trial, Drews said, the plaintiff asked for $7 million, but instead the jury awarded her $490,000 in past and future economic damages, and $150,000 in past and future noneconomic damages. “As for the third-party claim made by BNSF Railway against our client, the jury found BNSF 80% at fault and Omni only 20% at fault. Since Wyoming is a modified comparative fault state, the judgment was entered in favor of Omni, who paid nothing.”

According to Drews, he put Tyson & Mendes defense methods to good use at trial – arguing responsibility, reasonableness, and common sense on behalf of his client. “Omni accepted responsibility for designing and manufacturing a safety tool, eliminating the risk for injuries from stepping between the tracks or a slip or fall off a railcar ladder when applying and releasing handbrakes,” Drews said. “We also questioned whether BNSF had taken responsibility for anything at all. Our common-sense arguments highlighted the extremely old and abused condition of the brake stick the plaintiff was using on the date of her accident. We argued that the jury’s common sense would tell them the Omni brake stick was not defective, but BNSF’s handling of it was.”

Tyson & Mendes has spent 20 years protecting its clients’ interests and delivering justice both inside and outside the courtroom. The firm has established itself as a leader in driving down damages awards and reducing the likelihood of Nuclear Verdicts® – often defined as jury awards in excess of $10 million. Using a unique set of proven defense methods, the firm saved clients more than $667 million in 2021, and $397 million thus far in 2022.

For more information, visit tysonmendes.com.

 

About Tyson & Mendes LLP

Celebrating 20 years of taking back justice for all, Tyson & Mendes LLP is a nationwide, AV-rated litigation and trial firm specializing in insurance defense and protecting its clients from Nuclear Verdicts®. Robert Tyson and Patrick Mendes founded the firm in 2002 to defend corporations, insurance companies, and their clients in civil litigation matters. The firm has experienced tremendous growth in the past two decades, with offices across the U.S. serving clients in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The firm is most widely recognized for winning the landmark Howell v. Hamilton Meats California Supreme Court case, which forever changed the state’s litigation landscape by significantly impacting the damages a plaintiff may recover. Robert Tyson is also the author of the Amazon Bestseller Nuclear Verdicts®: Defending Justice for All, the first playbook for the defense on how to avoid runaway jury verdicts. For more information, visit www.tysonmendes.com.

 

Media Contact:

Ashley Bendas, J. Walcher Communications

ashley@jwalcher.com, 619-295-7140