Farm Hay Bale Accident Leads to $750,000 Judgment

On January 5, 2010, plaintiff’s husband was killed in a farming accident while working as a farm-hand on the defendant’s ranch. Workers compensation exclusive remedy did not apply to the claim as the defendant’s ranch had fewer than 6 employees. The trial court applied common-law and more importantly comparative fault principles. On the day of the incident, the decedent was moving large square bales off a hay stack in a pole barn. The usual equipment used to move the large square 1000 lb bales was out of order and not useable. The decedent attempted to use a small open cab front loading tractor that was not designed for moving the large square bales, against the advice of the defendant who was present. While attempting to lift a bale out of the stack, a bale positioned on top fell from the stack rolled down the arms of the loader and hit the decedent in the chest and neck. As a result of the impact, decedent went into cardiac arrest and was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced brain dead the next day. Keith Pennick, with the assistance from A.W. Smith of the Serious Injury Legal Group, accepted an offer of judgment in the amount of $750,000 after a year and a half of litigation. The venue for the case was Newton County Circuit Court in Neosho, Missouri.

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