Success Stories - Attorney Kevin R. Crisp

Defense of Framing Hammer Manufacturer

Thomas Burdge v. Stanley Hardware (Ridgecrest, CA)

Per the presiding judge, this was the first products liability case tried in the small, remote desert community of Ridgecrest, California, “Gateway to Death Valley.”  Plaintiff’s counsel was one of a handful of local attorneys.  His expert was a local known as “Claire – the Firewood Lady.”

Plaintiff had a shrapnel injury to his stomach, suffered when he was hitting what he called “a wood splitting wedge” with Defendant’s framing hammer.  Investigation by Defendant determined the manufacturer of the “wood splitting wedge.”  Though initially reluctant to get involved, that manufacturer did historical research and found an old catalog showing the “wood splitting wedfe” was actually a circa 1930 machinist’s set-up wedge, made of very hard steel and not intended to be struck with anything.  Microscopic examination of the hammer suggested that there had been three near-misses from prior abuse.  As to the claimed missing warning label, scratches were found on the fiberglass handle of the hammer – but only on the portion of the handle where stickers are normally applied.  Plaintiff admitted he used to work in a hardware store and had sold many hammers with warning stickers on them.

Plaintiff’s attorney referred repeatedly to Kevin as “the attorney from Los Angeles.”  Kevin accepted every single juror as called by the court for voir dire.   Plaintiff’s attorney used all of his challenges and had none left when the manager of the local True Value Hardware store was empanelled.  She became the foreman.  Other jurors included two of Plaintiff’s attorney’s former clients, and the father of his current paralegal.  The paralegal had worked on this case.  Two jurors had doctorate degrees due to the proximity of Ridgecrest to the China Lake Naval Weapons facility.

Result:  After 17 minutes of deliberation on a 111 degree day, 12-0 defense verdict.