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Charla Aldous: Dallas Jury Awards $71.95M In Wrongful Death Scissor Lift Trial, Beating $1.25M Settlement Offer

Dallas Jury Awards $71.95M In Wrongful Death Scissor Lift Trial, Beating $1.25M Settlement Offer

Posted by David Siegel on Apr 26, 2024

Dallas, TX - A Texas state court jury awarded $71.95 million on Thursday to the widow of an electrician who died when the scissor lift he was working on collapsed after colliding with a boom lift, and the full trial was recorded gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network

Plaintiff Laura Lopez sued Walker Engineering Inc. after the death of her husband Hernan Murillo, who died while performing electrical work at a Frito-Lay warehouse in 2019. Her attorneys accused Walker Engineering of allowing an unqualified employee to operate the boom lift, which accidentally backed into the nearby scissor lift while it was extended 30 feet into the air. 

Walker Engineering maintained the boom lift operator was an employee of Walker Industrial LLC, a separate legal entity, and that Murillo was responsible for the accident due to moving the scissor lift into a position near the boom lift. However the jury, after three days of deliberations in a trial that began on April 10, found Walker Engineering 65 percent liable for the accident and Walker Industrial 35 percent liable, which under Texas law makes Walker Engineering responsible for the full award. 

The entire trial from opening statements through to the verdict, including all expert witness testimony, is available via CVN’s online trial video library, which also includes hundreds of other civil jury trials featuring top plaintiff and defense attorneys from state courts throughout the country. 

Attorney Charla Aldous of Aldous Walker LLP, who represents Lopez, told CVN after the verdict that the jury award far exceeds the defense’s highest settlement offer of $1.25 million, increased during trial from an earlier offer of $1 million. 

Aldous said she believed evidence showing the alleged lack of training by the boom lift operator played a key role in securing a verdict that included zero assignment of liability for Hernan Murillo. 

“The jury believed that it was obvious that there was a lack of training,” Aldous stated. “We thought the evidence was clear that our client’s husband did nothing to cause this tragedy. We are so glad the jury agreed.” 

Attorneys for the defense did not respond to requests for comment from CVN. 

Aldous told CVN that the legal distinction between Walker Engineering and Walker Industrial posed a significant hurdle for the plaintiff legal team to overcome, but explained the apportionment of fault makes Walker Engineering jointly and severally liable for the entire verdict. 

“The employer of the decedent, Walker Industrial, was obviously negligent and they were submitted as a responsible third party,” she said. “Given the worker’s comp bar in Texas we could not recover from them. Thankfully the jury put 65 percent on Walker Engineering, the ‘sister company’ according to the defense but the ‘parent company’ from our view.” 

Aldous expressed optimism that the liability finding for Walker Engineering will spur improved safety training for employees like those involved in the accident, even if they involve legal entities that are technically separate. 

“Our hope is that it will show that corporate shell games will not shield corporations from legal liability and send a message to other employers of skilled labor not to just give lip service to safety but to actually commit to it,” she said. “That will save lives.” 

Aldous also credited pre-trial focus group work conducted by John Campbell of Campbell Law LLC and jury consultants Dr. Jaine Fraser and Dr. Bo Fraser of the Trial Psychology Institute with helping to secure the verdict. 

“We are thrilled with the verdict,” she said. “This has been a long, hard fight to get to the truth. Justice prevailed.” 

The plaintiffs were also represented by Brent Walker, Caleb Miller and Eleanor Aldous of Aldous Walker and by M. Kevin Queenan and Carlos Lopez of Queenan Law Firm PC. 

Walker Engineering was represented by Robert Bragalone and Soña J. Garcia of Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani LLP and by Joseph Byrne of Byrne Cardenas & Aris LLP. 

The trial took place before Judge Veretta Frazier in Dallas County’s 44th Civil District Court. 

The case is captioned Laura Lopez, et al. v. Walker Engineering Inc., case number DC-19-16959. 

E-mail David Siegel at

Dallas Jury Awards $71.95M In Wrongful Death Scissor Lift Trial, Beating $1.25M Settlement Offer (

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