An appeals court has rejected an appeal by Worthington Industries over $3.66 million awarded by a Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court jury to a Bowerston-area truck driver’s estate in a wrongful death lawsuit.
NEW PHILADELPHIA – An appeals court has rejected an appeal by Worthington Industries over $3.66 million awarded by a Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court jury to a Bowerston-area truck driver’s estate in a wrongful death lawsuit.
The amount is considered one of the largest verdicts in Tuscarawas County history.
Robert L. Romig Jr., 64, of 34270 Bower Road, died June 20, 2005. The jury returned its verdict Feb. 2, 2010, after a nearly three-week trial before Judge Edward O’Farrell in county Common Pleas Court in New Philadelphia. The lawsuit against Worthington Cylinder Corp., a subsidiary of Worthington Industries in Columbus, was filed by his widow, Sandra Romig, also executrix of the estate, and on behalf of the couple’s four adult children.
In February 2011, Worthington Cylinder Corp. asked the Ohio 5th District Court of Appeals to review the case based on “the trial court’s ruling on motions for summary judgment and post-verdict motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, new trial and remittitur, jury instructions; the trial court’s ruling on motion for a directed verdict.”
Remittitur can refer to returning the case to the lower court, or reducing the amount of what the attorneys claim is an excessive verdict by the jury.
Worthington has 45 days to appeal the latest decision to the Ohio Supreme Court. The state court does not have to consider the case, if filed. Justices choose cases they will hear from the many appeals annually, based on whether they involve constitutional issues, or those that the court finds to be “of public or great general interest,” according to the court’s website.
“We believe that the decision was fair,” said attorney Allen Schulman Jr. of [Allen Schulman and Associates] in Canton…
“Obviously, we’re pleased with the decision. The Romig family has been going through the legal process now for six years. We certainly hope that it’s coming to a conclusion.”
“We are reviewing the court’s opinion and will be making a decision in the coming days regarding an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court,” said Sonya L. Higginbotham, director of corporate communications for Worthington Industries. “This was a tragic accident. However, we stand by our position that the court failed to properly apply the law of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, and the interpretation of that law under prior rulings, that it is the sole responsibility of the driver to properly secure the cargo on their vehicle.”
Robert Romig drove a tractor-trailer rig with a two-level flatbed trailer, hauling a load of empty propane tanks in cradles.
He was at Loudon, N.H., and had to climb onto the second level to attach the hook of a hydraulic crane for unloading those cradles. The 2,600-pound cradle and tanks fell onto Romig, crushing him.
by Lee Morrison