The case arose from an October 29, 2011 farming accident involving the unintended release of anhydrous ammonia, an effective but potentially harmful fertilizer. Due to that release, the farmer applying the fertilizer passed away, and his son suffered injuries in an effort to remove his father from danger. The plaintiff in the case, however, was not the decedent farmer or his family members, but was Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance Company, which had settled the underlying claims for more than $4 million on behalf of its insured, Farmers Cooperative, an Iowa-based supplier of farm products and services. Farmers Cooperative had provided some of the equipment in use at the time of the accident and, significantly, had made its own determinations as to how to install that equipment without consulting the defendants, all of which were manufacturers of products in use at the time of the accident.
Nationwide brought suit under Iowa’s contribution law seeking to be repaid by the defendants for the settlements with the injured parties. Nationwide alleged that different product designs and/or warnings could have prevented the accident, and that Nationwide had thus paid more than its fair share to compensate the decedent’s estate and his son for their losses.
The defendants disputed the defect claims, and argued that the farmer and the Cooperative were principally at fault and that Nationwide’s underlying settlement was unreasonable. The jury returned a verdict finding no defect or failure to warn on the part of any defendant after approximately two hours of deliberation.
John Paul (J.P.) Gatto has significant trial and appellate experience and focuses his practice on the areas of Aviation Litigation, Product Liability Defense, Commercial Litigation, Construction Litigation, Environmental Litigation, Insurance Related Litigation, and Transportation Litigation. J.P. has tried numerous large loss complex cases to verdict in various state and federal courts. He has represented a wide variety of clients from large corporations, including aviation manufacturers, equipment manufacturers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, to small businesses and individuals. J.P. has handled a wide variety of claims including personal injury, warranty disputes, contract claims, claims for lost profit or business income, claims for violations of trade secrets, issues of insurance coverage, and other general litigation matters up to and through trial and any subsequent appeals. He has been selected for inclusion in Minnesota Rising Stars®, 2014-2017 Editions. JP is licensed to practice in the state courts of Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as Minnesota Federal courts and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Ryan Malone is an associate in HKM's Civil Litigation Group, focusing his practice primarily on Product Liability Defense. Ryan has played critical roles in numerous large loss personal injury and property damage claims ranging from aviation accidents to commercial and environmental claims relating to alleged nuclear radiation exposure. Ryan is licensed to practice in Minnesota state and federal courts and is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association. He received his J.D. from William & Mary School of Law and his B.A., cum laude, from Boston College, where he majored in political science and was a member of the school's Fulton Debating Society.
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