Major new verdict threatens to bankrupt John Alialoro’s company, if not overturned

Very disappointing news for Cybex International, the exercise equipment manufacturing company of which Atlas Shrugged movie Producer John Aglialoro is the CEO:

A New York jury on December 8 awarded a 30-year old plaintiff $66 million in her suit against the maker of an exercise machine that fell on her, rendering her a quadriplegic. Barnhard v. Cybex International, Inc., No. 2368/2005 (Supreme Court, Erie County, New York). The plaintiff filed suit against Cybex International, which is a leading manufacturer of exercise equipment, and against her employer at the time, Amherst Orthopedic Physical Therapy. As reported by CNBC, the jury apportioned 75 percent of liability to Cybex, 20 percent to Amherst Orthopedic, and 5 percent to the plaintiff. Cybrex had only $4 million in insurance coverage.

Cybex plans to appeal the verdict. See Aglialoro’s statement for additional information.

The transformation of modern tort law since the 1960s has resulted in a dramatic increase in such product liability lawsuits, and (as Peter Huber documents) it has had an adverse effect on safety, health, the cost of insurance, and individual rights.

These kinds of large punitive awards result from just the kind of success-punishing, anti-business legal institutions you find inside the pages of Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged.

About Joshua Zader

Joshua Zader is co-founder of Atlas Web Development and founder of The Atlasphere, a networking directory and dating service for admirers of Ayn Rand's novels with over 20,000 members from around the world.
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  • Jahouse

    “These kinds of large punitive awards result from just the kind of success-punishing, anti-business legal institutions you find inside the pages of Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged.”

    Tort claims are common law, not statist (at least, not strictly). Even Anarchists are ok with injury claims. Make better exercise equipment and there won’t be a need to write blog posts whining about the consequences of shoddy engineering.

    • http://www.zader.com Joshua Zader

      Peter Huber’s book, to which I linked, explains clearly the ways in which you are using slippery arguments that have less to do with justice or common law than with the growing efforts by trial lawyers to exploit the success of productive companies with large “punitive” awards that are completely out of proportion with injuries sustained from using their products. A $2 million dollar award would have been an injury claim. A $66 million award is rank opportunism and legalized theft.

      It is not possible to design and market innovative products in a competitive environment while also making it completely impossible for someone to be injured. If you manufacture exercise equipment for 20 years and only a few people become gravely injured from using your product in a somewhat improper way, then you have an excellent track record of nothing like “shoddy” engineering.

      If you haven’t noticed, people like paying less for their products, rather than more. They want greater variety, innovation, and features, and all for less money than it would have cost them the year before. While successfully providing this service to willing customers, it is impossible to always successfully navigate the fine line of what will be considered completely safe by some court ten years from now.

      • Guy Lev-Raz

        What a CROCK of SHIT… If this case isn’t a poster child for tort reform, I don’t know what is. The irony of the significance to Objectivism isn’t lost on em either – bunch of parasitic moochers penalizing producers for their success.

        WHEN IS THE NEXT GALT LINE TAIN TO THE GULCH????

    • Narragansett, Esq.

      1) Judges are part of the judicial branch. Depending on the jurisdiction, they are a) appointed by the executive and approved by the legislature or b) elected. Since the judicial branch is one of the three branches of government, the implied claim that they are not part of the state is erroneous.

      2) Modern tort law does is not fundamentally based on theory of fault. Rather, it is based on a theory of compensation. The theory goes, in short: someone was injured – they need compensation – look to the causal chain to see who is in the best position to compensate. This is why the larger pockets usually get targeted (they are at the top of causal chain – without the product, there is no injury). The bar is very low in showing evidence that the product was malfunctioning. The presumption is favor of the plaintiff, as all tort claims begin. Thus, it is up to the defendant to show that his product had nothing to do with the injury. Since, in most product liability cases, most, if not all, of the available factual evidence exists solely with the plaintiff, it is very difficult (if not impossible) for the defendant to prove that the product was not defective, inherently safe, and was misused.

      I propose, in the spirit of our current political climate, that we ban all exercise equipment. Just as New York is banning salt, trans-fat, and smoking, to protect the welfare of those not competent to do it themeselves, I think it is only in the best interest of the “public good” that we ban exercise equipment.

      • Philip

        Doesn’t go far enough. Let’s also ban exercise. After all, a jogger could trip over his foot while running along the side of the road and fall right in front of an oncoming tractor trailer. Which means let’s ban trucks. We should also ban breathing because you could suck in a twig or an abnormally large insect and choke to death.

        Don”t even get me started on swimming.

    • Philip

      > Make better exercise equipment

      You don’t know this, do you?

      It’s possible for someone to make something genuinely unsafe. It’s also possible to make something which “the idiot behind the wheel” used in an unsafe manner, in which case the manufacturer should -not- be liable.

      We all have read many times of cases in which a woman sues McDonald’s because she spilled hot coffee on herself, not because the cup was defective. And of many frivolous lawsuits and big awards. So it’s pretty clear that people with “big pockets” constantly lose millions in the courts unjustly.

      (I haven’t personally used Cybex’s machines, but I’ve used Nautilus and others and it seems you’d really have to work at it to make any of them topple on yourself.)

  • Jahouse

    “These kinds of large punitive awards result from just the kind of success-punishing, anti-business legal institutions you find inside the pages of Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged.”

    Tort claims are common law, not statist (at least, not strictly). Even Anarchists are ok with injury claims. Make better exercise equipment and there won’t be a need to write blog posts whining about the consequences of shoddy engineering.

    • http://www.zader.com Joshua Zader

      Peter Huber’s book, to which I linked, explains clearly the ways in which you are using slippery arguments that have less to do with justice or common law than with the growing efforts by trial lawyers to exploit the success of productive companies with large “punitive” awards that are completely out of proportion with injuries sustained from using their products. A $2 million dollar award would have been an injury claim. A $66 million award is rank opportunism and legalized theft.

      It is not possible to design and market innovative products in a competitive environment while also making it completely impossible for someone to be injured. If you manufacture exercise equipment for 20 years and only a few people become gravely injured from using your product in a somewhat improper way, then you have an excellent track record of nothing like “shoddy” engineering.

      If you haven’t noticed, people like paying less for their products, rather than more. They want greater variety, innovation, and features, and all for less money than it would have cost them the year before. While successfully providing this service to willing customers, it is impossible to always successfully navigate the fine line of what will be considered completely safe by some court ten years from now.

      • Guy Lev-Raz

        What a CROCK of SHIT… If this case isn’t a poster child for tort reform, I don’t know what is. The irony of the significance to Objectivism isn’t lost on em either – bunch of parasitic moochers penalizing producers for their success.

        WHEN IS THE NEXT GALT LINE TAIN TO THE GULCH????

    • Narragansett, Esq.

      1) Judges are part of the judicial branch. Depending on the jurisdiction, they are a) appointed by the executive and approved by the legislature or b) elected. Since the judicial branch is one of the three branches of government, the implied claim that they are not part of the state is erroneous.

      2) Modern tort law does is not fundamentally based on theory of fault. Rather, it is based on a theory of compensation. The theory goes, in short: someone was injured – they need compensation – look to the causal chain to see who is in the best position to compensate. This is why the larger pockets usually get targeted (they are at the top of causal chain – without the product, there is no injury). The bar is very low in showing evidence that the product was malfunctioning. The presumption is favor of the plaintiff, as all tort claims begin. Thus, it is up to the defendant to show that his product had nothing to do with the injury. Since, in most product liability cases, most, if not all, of the available factual evidence exists solely with the plaintiff, it is very difficult (if not impossible) for the defendant to prove that the product was not defective, inherently safe, and was misused.

      I propose, in the spirit of our current political climate, that we ban all exercise equipment. Just as New York is banning salt, trans-fat, and smoking, to protect the welfare of those not competent to do it themeselves, I think it is only in the best interest of the “public good” that we ban exercise equipment.

      • Philip

        Doesn’t go far enough. Let’s also ban exercise. After all, a jogger could trip over his foot while running along the side of the road and fall right in front of an oncoming tractor trailer. Which means let’s ban trucks. We should also ban breathing because you could suck in a twig or an abnormally large insect and choke to death.

        Don”t even get me started on swimming.

    • Philip

      > Make better exercise equipment

      You don’t know this, do you?

      It’s possible for someone to make something genuinely unsafe. It’s also possible to make something which “the idiot behind the wheel” used in an unsafe manner, in which case the manufacturer should -not- be liable.

      We all have read many times of cases in which a woman sues McDonald’s because she spilled hot coffee on herself, not because the cup was defective. And of many frivolous lawsuits and big awards. So it’s pretty clear that people with “big pockets” constantly lose millions in the courts unjustly.

      (I haven’t personally used Cybex’s machines, but I’ve used Nautilus and others and it seems you’d really have to work at it to make any of them topple on yourself.)

  • Average Human

    Hopefully the millions he will make off this movie will more than pay off this absurd “punishment”. By my calculations 75% of 66 million is 49.5 million. Does this lady NEED that kind of money? What for? If the equipment was so bad, why is this the only person to be hurt? What was she doing with it? Pathetic country we have.

  • Average Human

    Hopefully the millions he will make off this movie will more than pay off this absurd “punishment”. By my calculations 75% of 66 million is 49.5 million. Does this lady NEED that kind of money? What for? If the equipment was so bad, why is this the only person to be hurt? What was she doing with it? Pathetic country we have.

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  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/GTWW5A7R5VGLQNGMPQ3OMH5CJ4 egoist_capitalist

    That anybody [still] makes or does anything in this country is surprising. You fight for success, odds are tough. If you fail, you lose. If you’re successful, you’re a boob to be sucked dry.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/GTWW5A7R5VGLQNGMPQ3OMH5CJ4 egoist_capitalist

    That anybody [still] makes or does anything in this country is surprising. You fight for success, odds are tough. If you fail, you lose. If you’re successful, you’re a boob to be sucked dry.

  • Anonymous

    It never ceases to amaze me that the blame somehow always comes to rest on the pockets that are perceived to be the deepest.

  • 5674DB

    It never ceases to amaze me that the blame somehow always comes to rest on the pockets that are perceived to be the deepest.