Worker dies operating rock-crushing machine. $30 million. Los Angeles County.


Employee dies after being pulled into rock crushing machine when guards are removed.

The Case

  • Case Name: Anaya v. General Equipment & Supplies. Inc, et al.
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles County / BC594187
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Monday, March 19, 2018
  • Date Action was Filed: Friday, September 11, 2015
  • Type of Case: Products Liability, Wrongful Death
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Michelle Williams Court
  • Plaintiffs:
    Plaintiffs were decedent Rolando Anaya’s three minor children, ages 17, 15, and 11.
  • Defendants:
    General Equipment & Supplies, Inc.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $30,000,000
  • Net Verdict or Award: $21,000,000
  • Settlement Amount: Fab Tec settled before trial for $750,000.
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    The jury awarded plaintiffs $30,000,000 in non-economic damages. The jury apportioned fault to General Equipment 70% ($21,000,000) and 30% to the employer. (Employer was not a defendant due to the Workers' Comp sole remedy rule.)

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 1/2 days.
  • Jury Polls: 12-0 liability, 11-1 damages.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Liddy Law Firm by Donald G. Liddy and Paula J. Khehra, Pasadena.

    Shoop, APLC by David R. Shoop, Beverly Hills.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Walsworth WFBM, LLP by John A. Kaniewski and Sadaf A. Nejat, Orange. (For General Equipment & Supplies, Inc.)

The Experts

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Peter Petrovsky, civil engineering, Agoura.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Roman Beyer, civil engineering, Los Altos.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On October 7, 2013, 34-year-old maintenance worker Rolando Anaya was caught and pulled into a rock-crushing machine that was being operated without safety guards.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That the manufacturer had provided removable safety guards with no interlock or adequate emergency stop device. 

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant contended that the employer, R.J. Noble, should never have allowed the machine to operate without safety guards and that decedent was negligent for working near the machine without a guard. Defendant claimed the machine was safe if used with the guards provided, and that it provided an emergency stop in the control room. The guards were manufactured by Fab Tec (not a defendant at trial).

    As to damages, defendant also claimed that decedent did not live in the same state as his children and only saw them a few weeks per year and was absent from their lives for a number of years.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Wrongful death of father.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: To General Equipment: $5,000,000 on July 21, 2017.
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $25,100 CCP 998 on December 2, 2016 and $250,000 on January 29, 2018.

Additional Notes

Insurer(s): Sentry Insurance, policy limit $1,500,000 primary; $10,000,000 umbrella.