Louisville Ladder, one of several big name manufacturers that corner the market on ladders and ladder accessories throughout the U.S. and Canada, has issued recalls in recent years for defective ladders that pose a safety hazard to consumers.
According to a growing number of lawsuits, many Louisville products that weren’t recalled are also causing serious injuries, leaving some victims permanently disabled or even dead.
Are Consumers Losing Trust In Louisville Ladder?
Established in Louisville, Kentucky in 1946, Louisville Ladder is currently owned by Grupo Cuprum, a large corporation based in Mexico. The company rose to prominence in the ladder industry by pioneering several popular material / ladder type combinations such as aluminum stepladders and fiberglass extension ladders. Over the years, homeowners and professionals alike grew to expect the best in quality and innovation from Louisville products.
But for buyers who have been reportedly injured by faulty Louisville ladders, the company’s reputation is tarnished forever, especially in cases where Louisville refused to acknowledge complaints or offer assistance to injured consumers.
Customers Describe Injuries From Louisville Products
On the official consumer reporting website established and maintained by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, numerous consumers have filed complaints and injury reports regarding Louisville ladders. Some of these incidents involved injuries serious enough to require emergency care or even surgery.
Ladder Foot Slippage Results In Fractured Disc, Concussion
Incident Date: August 15, 2013
After spending about 2 hours repairing his gutters using a Louisville extension ladder, a 63-year-old man fell hard onto concrete steps after one of the ladder’s feet failed to grip. He was rushed to St. Margaret’s Hospital in Indiana via ambulance, where he was diagnosed with a fractured lumbar disc and concussion. For treatment of his injuries, the man remained at the hospital for more than 2 weeks. Furthermore, after he returned home, he needed physical therapy in order to develop the strength and dexterity just to be able to walk again.
Though Louisville initially responded to the consumer after he sent in a report with photographs of the accident, telling him that his report would be forwarded to the engineering department, he never received a follow-up from the company.
Bent Stepladder Causes Fractured Wrist
Incident Date: September 25, 2012
A 68-year-old man was trimming a tree using a 7-ft Louisville stepladder with an extender, when the ladder suddenly “twisted and bent,” causing him to fall backwards. He fell about 3-4 feet onto a cement sidewalk and attempted to break the fall by throwing his left hand out. At Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, CO, doctors gave him X-rays and diagnosed him with a “fractured wrist and crushed socket.” He received surgery in which a metal plate was inserted into his wrist.
The consumer called Louisville Ladder and was able to speak to one of the company’s engineers, but the engineer merely dismissed his concerns, sending him a video that supposedly demonstrated the ladder’s sturdiness and accusing him of incorrect use of the ladder extender. The injured man maintains that the ladder and its extender are unsafe and “should be recalled.”
Extension Ladder Spinal Injury Leads To Paralysis
Incident Date: August 24, 2010
With a fully-extended 16 ft. extension ladder from Louisville’s “Davidson” brand, a 59-year-old man was climbing onto his roof when the ladder’s “slide guide” came apart, pushing the man backwards. He fell 25-30 feet to the ground and suffered severe injuries that necessitated surgery and a 3-month hospital stay:
- A spinal injury that resulted in paralysis of the legs
- Cracked ribs
- Leg punctures
In June 2012, the consumer filed a lawsuit against Louisville Ladder with allegations of hazardous design and unclear safety labeling. Unfortunately, in January 2014 when the case went to trial, the court ruled in favor of the manufacturer, but the consumer believes that the verdict came to pass because during the trial “safety hazards were not properly looked at.”
The above incidents are only a few of many injury reports posted on the CPSC website, not to mention complaints featured on other consumer review websites. In nearly every report, the consumers express anger and frustration at the company’s refusal to hear out their complaints and failure to recall the ladder that harmed them.
Some Recalls Issued, But With No Reimbursement For Injuries
Ladder recalls can help protect consumers, alerting them to avoid buying ladder models that may be hazardous. Recalls can also provide consumers who have already purchased recalled models with an easy avenue for obtaining assistance with inspecting, fixing or replacing faulty parts and requesting refunds.
However, in cases such as those in the injury reports, where accident victims were afflicted with overwhelming medical expenses and potentially life-altering injuries, the offer of a replacement ladder or refund as compensation is utterly inadequate. But as we can see in the most recent major recalls issued by Louisville, refunds and replacements are all the company provides for its customers, even to those who were injured.
Extension Ladders With Failing Locks Pose Falling Hazard
Recall Issue Date: February 20, 2008
Affected Units: About 25,000 units of “Michigan” or “Louisville/Davidson” brand extensive ladders
Identified By: Specific model numbers of Type I, IA, or II ladders with “D” shaped aluminum rungs and fiberglass rails
Sold: In many major industrial suppliers and home center stores nationwide from September through December 2007
Recall Reason / Resolution: The “fly” or extension section that is supposed to lock securely to provide stability tends to fail in the affected units, rendering the user vulnerable to loss of balance / falling. Consumers were given a free repair kit if their ladder was found to suffer from this defect.
Industrial Ladders With Weakened Rungs Prone To Breakage
Recall Issue Date: November 23, 2005
Affected Units: About 3000 units of assorted industrial ladders
Identified By: One of 14 models of multi-purpose, step-to-straight, combination, manhole, or extension ladders with rounded aluminum rungs and fiberglass rails.
Sold: In various major home improvement and industrial supply retailers nationwide from November 2004 through March 2005
Recall Reason / Resolution: In the affected units, the rungs have a structural weakness near the side rails that may break and cause falls. Consumers were instructed to stop using the ladders immediately and call the Louisville recall hotline for a complimentary inspection and replacement for units confirmed defective.
Stepladders With Too-Short, Poorly-Attached Steps Can Cause Falls
Recall Issue Date: September 8, 1999
Affected Units: About 10,700 RIDGID® brand fiberglass Type 1A stepladders of 6ft, 8ft, and 10ft lengths
Identified By: Brand name labeled on the units’ red plastic tops and grey railings
Sold: In Home Depot stores nationwide from May 1999 through July 1999
Recall Reason / Resolution: The CPSC and Louisville Ladder issued this recall after discovering that some units in the product line had steps that were both too short and “improperly attached,” causing the steps to easily give way, putting the user at risk for falls. Louisville Ladder had received at least one report of the ladder’s steps breaking before deciding to send out the recall.
Buyers were urged to carefully inspect their ladders for faulty steps and to get a refund from their Home Depot if any defects were found.
Lawsuits Mount Over Accidents
Many homeowners who once trusted Louisville Ladder have turned to legal action after suffering injuries and being dismissed by the company’s customer service department. These injured consumers are holding the manufacturer accountable for traumatic ordeals that they believe were caused by defective ladders. Three recent lawsuits in particular highlight the tragic nature of many ladder injury lawsuits:
- McGuire v. Davidson Manufacturing Corporation (part of Louisville Ladder Group, LLC). According to this lawsuit filed in Iowa state court, the plaintiff Michael McGuire fell from a 6-foot Louisville stepladder, and suffered severe injuries after hitting his head on a concrete floor. The accident, which occurred on September 5, 1999, was witnessed by McQuire’s son-in-law, and McGuire believes that his fall was caused by a sudden fracture in the ladder’s side rails. The jury decided that Louisville Ladder was at fault, both for selling a product with a manufacturing defect and for general negligence. McGuire was awarded $311,838.57 in damages and his wife was also awarded $24,000 for “loss of consortium” (loss of key benefits in her spousal relationship due to husband’s injuries).
- Sweeney v. Louisville Ladder, Inc. This wrongful death claim was filed by Cecelia Sweeney in Philadelphia, whose husband William allegedly died from injuries suffered in a ladder accident on August 11, 2012. While using a Louisville rolling steel warehouse ladder at work, William fell and hit his head on the concrete floor. Though he was immediately rushed to the hospital, the surgeons couldn’t stop the swelling in his brain, and he died from his injuries 4 days later. Though Cecelia decided to discontinue the lawsuit in February 2014, she did so “without prejudice,” which means that she retains the right to re-file if she so chooses.
- Baugh v. Cuprum S.A. De C.V. John and Sharon Baugh from Illinois filed this case against Louisville Ladder’s parent corporation Cuprum after John allegedly suffered brain injuries from a ladder fall. John was repairing his gutters when the aluminum Louisville brand ladder suddenly collapsed beneath him, causing him to hit his head on the cement driveway, according to the lawsuit. The head trauma he endured rendered him unable to care for himself and he is now forced to live in a specialized nursing facility. The first trial for this case was ruled in favor of the defendant in 2011, but the Baughs were able to get a second trial, which started in May 2015. Though John was not able to clearly recall his accident because of his brain injuries and there were no witnesses, the appeals court decided that Cuprum was at fault and awarded the Baughs $11.1 million in compensation.
Though the ordeals endured by these wronged consumers were truly horrific, the outcomes of the 1st and 3rd case can at least provide hope for the growing number of ladder injury plaintiffs, showing that it’s possible for ladder accident victims and their families to obtain compensation to help them through their suffering.
No company should be allowed to put innocent consumers at risk of life-threatening injuries, whether intentionally or through negligence. Thankfully, as we’ve seen, when major companies like Louisville Ladder fail to uphold consumer safety, consumers have the right to fight back.