Jack B. Harper Contractor, Inc. v. United Fiberglass of America, Inc.

Jack B. Harper Contractor, Inc. v. United Fiberglass of America, Inc.
(February 2013)

Keith W. McDaniel, Quincy T. Crochet and Heather Nagel Shockley of McCranie, Sistrunk, Anzelmo, Hardy McDaniel & Welch LLC obtained a favorable result for Prime Conduit, Inc. (“PCI”) following a nearly three-week jury trial in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.  Jack B. Harper Contractor, Inc. (“Harper”) filed the lawsuit against United Fiberglass of America, Inc. (“UFA”) and PCI and alleged defects in a multi-cell conduit system referred to as Multi-Gard.  Prior to suit, Harper entered a contract with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for the installation of digital messaging signs, cameras and radar, along with underground and structure-mounted conduit to house the power cable and fiber optic cable which serviced and powered the equipment.  Harper purchased and installed Multi-Gard for use on elevated portions of Interstates 310 and 10 near New Orleans, Louisiana.  UFA and PCI each manufactured certain components of the conduit system, which Harper argued was defective and caused delayed completion of the project.  The case proceeded to trial before a jury with Judge Jane Triche-Milazzo presiding.  PCI defended Harper’s claims, rejecting the notion that the conduit was defective and arguing instead that any issues encountered by Harper were due to faulty installation techniques.  In closing, counsel for Harper asked the jury to cast PCI with 70% fault and UFA with 20% fault, and to award damages totaling almost five million dollars.  However, the jury rejected Harper’s request and determined instead that PCI was only 12% at fault.  The jury placed the majority of the fault on Harper at 53%, with the remaining 35% fault assessed against UFA.  The jury also determined that Harper’s damages totaled less than two million dollars.  After applying the fault percentages fixed by the jury, the Court entered Judgment in Harper’s favor against PCI for $229,883.52, a figure which represents less than 5% of the amount requested by Harper during closing arguments.