Plaintiffs favorably settle in case of 10-year old girl killed by fire hose nozzle

The Issue
Plaintiffs alleged wrongful death and product liability in this case involving death and serious injury to two 10-year-old girls, as a result of a loose fire hose nozzle whipping outside of a fire truck that was turning a corner. The plaintiffs needed to not only show product liability and negligence, but first identify defendants in the case, as the original manufacturer had gone out of business and changed hands several times in 30 years.

The Challenge
The challenge is this case was to find the facts and determine:
  • Who is the defendant?
  • Is there product liability?
The Investigation
  • Who is the defendant?
    • Investigative Research - CSI in-depth investigative research located the manufacturer, which CSI counsel determined is the responsible party for the original truck manufacturer.
  • How to get access to the vehicle?
    • Law Enforcement Liaison -- CSI utilized the law enforcement relationships of senior investigator Robert Meinert, former Allegheny County Homicide Commander, to liaison with the police and fire chief and gain access to the vehicle. The chief contact was the Solicitor for the Borough, who approved the process.
  • Is there product liability?
    • Field Investigation
      • CSI Field Investigators took extensive photographs of the vehicle, fire hose compartment and nozzle, and weighed the nozzle.
      • Witness Interviews to verify how the incident occurred.
    • Investigative Research and Law Enforcement Liaison
      • Through both investigative research and law enforcement liaison with other fire company organizations, CSI was able to identify other similar loose fire hose nozzle incidents - several causing damage to vehicles.
Keys to the Investigation
  • Determined that a key design of the truck is the “Transverse Cross-Lay Compartment”, to show that the nozzle was heavier than the hose and going around a bend or corner would cause the hose to unravel.
  • The overall key to this investigation: the integrated use of diverse investigative expertise: Investigative research, in-house counsel, field investigators, and senior personnel with law enforcement relationships.
Awards
  • The municipality settled for the award cap – $500,000
  • The Jury – A significant award
    • $5,080,000 to Deceased’s Estate
    • $1.5 Million to Injured
    • $57,000 – Parents of Injured
    • $100,000 – Injured’s Sister
    • $1 Million to Bystander – Mother
    • $250,000 to Bystander – Sister