News and Noteworthy
New and Noteworthy
Trizna Wins Jury Verdict and Full Cash Award
SRZ litigation partner Robert Trizna needed to get his mind into the gutter when representing a manufacturer of seamless aluminum gutters from the Republic of Ireland, but doing so enabled him to win a jury verdict of $170,000—the full amount of his client’s claim—in a breach of contract lawsuit.
At issue was whether the defendant, a metal coating contractor from Franklin Park, Illinois, breached its contract to spray-coat more than 250 tons of aluminum coil for Trizna’s client per the coating manufacturer’s specifications. During the process of roll-forming the coated coil into gutters, the coating exhibited intermittent flaking and peeling in one particular area of the formed gutters, creating excessive scrap and effectively rendering the coil unusable.
The defendant argued the coating had been properly applied and the flaking and peeling were the result of the client’s defective slitting of the coil, which created rough and wavy edges that caused it to twist and bind during the roll-forming process so that the coating flaked and peeled from excessive pressure by the forming rollers. The defendant relied on the testimony of two coating experts and an M.I.T. professor of metallurgical engineering, all of whom claimed the coating process complied with the manufacturer’s specifications.
Lacking a coating expert of his own, Trizna relied on testimony from a manufacturer of gutter roll-forming machines, who also demonstrated the gutter-making process using one of his company’s 8-foot long, 1,400-pound machines. The jurors were able to see firsthand and in real time how each bend on the gutter was made and how even jamming the machine could not produce flaking and peeling of the coating.
“I really think we won the case with that first witness and the demonstration,” said Trizna. “Our witness not only educated the jurors about the roll-forming process, but that evidence effectively shifted the focus of the case from the coating process to the roll-forming process—the issue we knew we could win because only we had testimony from a roll-forming expert.”
The trial, whose outcome won Trizna kudos from SRZ’s client, lasted four days and was presided over by U.S. District Judge James Zagel. [Holden Metal & Aluminum Works, Ltd., v. Wismarq Corporation, Case No. 00 CV 191.]