Langdon & Emison Obtains Settlement in Dolly Wheel Hub Explosion Case

Langdon & Emison reached a confidential settlement recently on behalf of a Missouri man who was seriously injured when the dolly wheel he was inflating violently exploded. Mark Emison served as the lead attorney for the plaintiff.

On October 20, 2012, David Rhoads, a project engineer for Haldex Brake Systems, used an air compressor to inflate a tire on a dolly, or hand truck, designed by California-based Gleason Industrial Products (also known as Milwaukee Hand Trucks). The dolly was equipped with plastic wheel hubs, rather than metal hubs, which made them much weaker and more prone to fail and explode during inflation.  These products were sold nationwide at Lowe’s Home Improvement.

During inflation, the wheel hub exploded with a force similar to a small hand gun, and sent Mr. Rhoads’ left arm around his head. As a result, Mr. Rhoads required multiple surgeries and lost the use of his thumb, among other permanent injuries.

The legal team successfully argued that the hand truck design was defective and unreasonably dangerous. In 2007, Gleason chose to equip certain dolly models with plastic wheel hubs rather than metal hubs.  The plastic hubs cost Gleason 30 percent less than the stronger, metal hubs. Gleason admitted that it knew as early as 2002 that other consumer products had been recalled by the Consumer Products Safety Commission because plastic wheel hubs exploded during inflation.

Gleason acquired the dolly’s plastic hubs through a third-party supplier in Taiwan who obtained the hubs from a Chinese manufacturer. Gleason did not give the Taiwanese supplier any safety or quality criteria for the plastic hubs, nor did the company investigate the quality control or the manufacturing process of the Chinese manufacturer. In addition, Gleason did not conduct testing to determine whether the plastic wheel hubs would explode during inflation and it failed to warn consumers of the dangers of using an air compressor to inflate the tires.

“Gleason knew about the risk that plastic hubs could explode during tire inflation,” said Emison. “Before David’s injury, at least two other people were seriously injured when Gleason plastic wheel hubs exploded during tire inflation.”

About Langdon & Emison

Langdon & Emison is recognized as a leading personal injury law firm, having taken on some of the world’s largest corporations. With offices in Lexington, Mo., Kansas City (Mo.), St. Louis and Chicago, the firm represents plaintiffs from coast to coast. Langdon & Emison represented the plaintiff in Baker vs. General Motors, a landmark lawsuit where for the first time evidence was admitted into court proving an automaker’s deliberate choice of profits over human safety. The firm has earned a national reputation as a leader in auto defect cases, trucking accidents, and a full array of personal injury litigation.