Jury awards Oklahoma woman $5 million in lawsuit against John Deere


PAYNE COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – A jury has awarded $5 million to an Oklahoma woman after her husband was killed by a faulty tractor.

Earlier this month, a Payne County jury awarded Shylah Beall $3 million in compensatory damages and an additional $2 million in punitive damages after finding John Deere at fault for her husband’s death.

“No amount of money will take the place of a loving husband and father, but these funds can help Shylah and her family in other ways,” said Donald E. Smolen, the victim’s attorney. “Our greatest hope is we can prevent this from happening to another family. We are pleased the jury decided in our favor.”

Officials say James Beall died in 2014 after his John Deere Compact Utility Tractor with a front loader rolled while he was driving it, trapping him underneath it. James died from asphyxiation.

Shylah Beall said the tractor had not been properly configured to account for the added weight of the front loader. Evidence shown at trial showed that John Deere’s own manufacturing specifications required an additional weight be added to the back of the tractor before the front-loader is attached.

However, that didn’t happen before it was sold to James Beall.

“It was not ready for the customer to take possession as it left the Augusta, Georgia facility,” said Carlton Hearn, product safety engineer at John Deere, according to a trial transcript.

It took only 27 minutes for the jury to award the $3 million in compensatory damages and an additional seven minutes for the punitive damages.

“I don’t want James’ death to be in vain,” she said. “I want proper safety protocols followed in the future.”

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