Green Tractor Talk banner

1 - 20 of 160 Posts

·
Administrator
Joined
·
17,290 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Sad story for sure, but just more proof that properly ballasting our tractors is important. Even though the wife "won" the suite, she still lost her husband.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Last week, a Payne County jury awarded a Stillwater woman $5 million in a civil suit that followed her husband's death in a tractor accident.

The jury found Deere & Company, the manufacturer of John Deere tractors, to be responsible for the May 25, 2014, death of James Beall, age 38, of Stillwater, when the tractor he was driving rolled over, trapping him underneath. Shylah Beall, his widow, was represented by Smolen Law, a Tulsa firm.

The case involved a John Deere 3038 E Compact Utility Tractor with a 305 front loader that was sold to the Bealls by P&K Equipment, Inc., of Stillwater. The tractor and an optional front loader were assembled at the Deere plant in Georgia and then shipped to P&K Equipment.


Shylah Beall's suit claimed that the tractor was unsafe and had not been properly configured by either the factory or the dealership before she and her husband took delivery. Throughout the lawsuit, Deere denied the accusations.

Beall's attorneys said Deere’s manufacturing failed to add additional weight to the rear of the tractor to counterbalance the almost 700-pound front-end loader, before it left the Deere plant in Georgia. The weight was also not added at the local dealership.

Representatives of Deere & Company said the tractor was not defective or unreasonably dangerous and suggested Beall may not have been wearing his seatbelt.

During the trial, the representative for Deere & Company admitted that ballast is supposed to be added to the rear and tires of the tractor. In the instruction manual it said, "To prevent death or bodily injury from tractor loader roll-over, the required amount of ballast must be added to the tractor."

The proper ballast wasn’t added before Beall bought the tractor, and Beall's attorneys argued that evidence shown during the trial suggested that if the weight had been added as recommended, the tractor wouldn’t have rolled over.

Carlton Hearn, a product safety engineer for Deere & Company, testitfied that the tractor was supposed to be configured ready for use at the dealership, and there is a checklist dealers go through to ensure a tractor is ready for use.

Among the checklist items was the installation of ballast to to prevent rollover and injury. At first, it seemed the Hearn was suggesting that it would be up to the consumer to do whatever needed to be done with the tractor, according to a transcript provided to the News Press by Smolen Law.

"So let me ask you this, so when James and his dad, Clyde, showed up to P&K and they – and he had this dream of having his own business and he had this 16-acre property that he needs help mowing," attorney Donald Smolen asked. "You think that they should have thought to themselves, 'Hey, even though I'm buying this thing brand new from John Deere and it's come directly from the factory all set up, I bet it's in an unreasonably safe condition and that I need to go through and make sure that they did everything they are supposed to. Is that the way that Deere sells its equipment?'"

"I'm sorry. What way?" the rep asked.

"Well, you've got here that in order for this tractor to be safe, and properly weighted, and properly ballasted there are certain things that have to be done to the tractor when used with a loader right?," Smolen replied. "I mean, that's what we have been talking about. And these things that are listed, the consumer, James Beall, Clyde Beall, me whoever, the consumer can't even do that, they can't even istall the real tire weights according to Deere, right?"
"It's recommended that they are done by a Deere dealership," Hearn replied.
On Jan. 16, a Payne County jury found after 27 minutes of deliberation that "by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant, Deere & Company, acted in reckless disregard for the rights of others." They awarded Shylah Beall $3 million in actual compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages.
In a statement released Thursday, Shylah Beall said that her main goal was to hold the company accountable and make sure nothing like this happens in the future.
“I don’t want James’ death to be in vain,” she said. “I want proper safety protocols followed in the future.”
Attorney Donald E. Smolen, II, said the compensation will help Shylah raise her young son, who is now left without a father.
“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,” he said. “Our greatest hope is we can prevent this from happening to another family. We are pleased the jury decided in our favor.”
 

·
Senior GTT Super Slacker
Joined
·
36,093 Posts
It is sad, but, a lot of people buying tractors nowadays have no business buying a tractor.
Next thing ya know vehicles sold in the north will need to be sold with summer tires and snow tires.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
538 Posts
GRRR, Friggin' lawyers!
To me, Deere waas covered, "To prevent death or bodily injury from tractor loader roll-over, the required amount of ballast must be added to the tractor." And did anyone have pictures of the tractor lying on its side...showing bucket height?

I don't care how much ballast is on the tractor, if the bucket is high enough, it can roll.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,545 Posts
GRRR, Friggin' lawyers!
To me, Deere waas covered, "To prevent death or bodily injury from tractor loader roll-over, the required amount of ballast must be added to the tractor." And did anyone have pictures of the tractor lying on its side...showing bucket height?

I don't care how much ballast is on the tractor, if the bucket is high enough, it can roll.
My guess would be that the jury didn't have any tractor experience either.
 

·
Senior GTT Super Slacker
Joined
·
36,093 Posts
My guess would be that the jury didn't have any tractor experience either.
Good point.
I have to wonder if a ballast box was sold as part of the tractor purchased. My dealer wont sell a tractor with FEL without a ballast box.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,484 Posts
It is sad, but, a lot of people buying tractors nowadays have no business buying a tractor.
Next thing ya know vehicles sold in the north will need to be sold with summer tires and snow tires.
My guess would be that the jury didn't have any tractor experience either.
Agreed on both accounts.

You and I know what ballast is and use it mostly from a lifetime of experience around machinery. But I see a lot of posts around here basically saying “this is my first tractor - never driven one before”. A lot of these posts are asking about anything BUT ballast.

Just my opinion....but a dealer needs to determine what experience a prospective buyer has. If someone outright says “I’ve never even sat on a tractor before” then they should bear the responsibility to equip the tractor with ballast.

That being said, that doesn’t mean the new owner will use said ballast. People today seem to expect everything done for them and accept no responsibility for themselves.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,545 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,758 Posts
My guess would be that the jury didn't have any tractor experience either.
yeah i agree-heck when i went to be on the juror for the convict who said he got roughed up while in the prison, 2 of the jurors thought right away he should win. of course uns know what i said to em. blah.
tractor salesman should insist the new owner get his tires filled at least-IMO. but i'm sure that when the price is laid down in front of them, they fuss about it. i filled my tires, but didn't buy a ballast box until i had front axle problems. course jd knew the bearings in that front axle wasn't strong enough, because they changed them when the 2720's came out then, same way with the 3pt arms that rubbed the inside of the tires on mine. they changed them too, with the 2720's.
i don't agree with the verdict at all. the owner should of taken some blame for what happened-just my 2 cts. made them lawyers rich.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,940 Posts
Just my opinion....but a dealer needs to determine what experience a prospective buyer has.
I disagree. Slippery slope. How does a dealer (tractor, car, trailer, gun, tool, etc) determine if every buyer has the ability to understand and use the item they are purchasing?

Most buyers are looking for how much they can buy and for as little money they don't have to spend, financed at 0% and only budget the monthly payment. They nickle and dime every cost. So how are you going to up sell loaded tires and/or wheel weight (that they don't want on their pretty lawns) or ballast boxes.......

Another thought is ballast boxes are sold empty.......... It is up to the user to load the box. Next lawsuit will be cause the ID-10-T didn't put anything in the box and is dead.

Just more McDonalds Hot Coffee evidence that people are just plain stupid.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,845 Posts
You can't fix stupid. That guy paid for it with his life. It does not make any difference how much he was told about the safety aspects, which he may have very likely been, if he does not practice it, things like this happen. Most likely, he never even read his owners manual.

Dave
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,718 Posts
I never like to see this. Both sides, someone getting injured or killed and the other side where a jury awards a settlement to someone that was doing something against what was clearly documented if he bothered to read it. Maybe he did read it and knew about ballast but was thinking he just needed to move this one thing really quick. I have done that. For instance during spring and fall cleanup. My suitcase weights are on my Z950R when I have the MCS on. I could turn the lower limit or the 3pt so I can take off the heavy hitch and pick up my box blade but I don't always do that to move someting real quick. I just am extra careful and if I am lifting anything of any real weight I take the time. Things can happen though. It is a calculated risk on my part.

Next thing we will see is that JD will further reduce the lifting capaility of these machines and/or make ballast that can't be removed. All because the lawyers got involved.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
619 Posts
This article, and the family's attorneys are pretending that rear ballast is an included feature that Deere somehow forgot to install or neglected to include. That's a false narrative. Ballast has to be selected by and purchased by the consumer. Then installed by the consumer or the dealer, whichever the consumer chooses. If the consumer neglects to purchase ballast options, that is a failure of the consumer, not Deere. If the consumer fails to read the manual that clearly states this, that is also a failure of the consumer, not Deere.

That being said, I think Deere needs to be more proactive on the matter, recommending and pushing consumers to understand and purchase ballast options. Usually they just sell whatever the customer asks for.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,277 Posts
They should have ballasted the tractor before letting it go from the dealership. Plain and simple. It should be standard protocol to put ballast in with the loader build. They take it off, and die, and it’s on them. It shouldn’t be up to a tractor dealer to determine wether it can be overlooked at the time of sale. They need to implement this in their builds. If you manufacture, and sell equipment, it should be safe to run coming from the dealership. Ballast shouldn’t be another expensive add on. It should come with the loader
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,484 Posts
Next thing we will see is that JD will further reduce the lifting capaility of these machines and/or make ballast that can't be removed. All because the lawyers got involved.
Along with all tractors having a fixed ROPS and made so the tractor won’t move without the seatbelt engaged.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,749 Posts
Just my opinion....but a dealer needs to determine what experience a prospective buyer has. If someone outright says “I’ve never even sat on a tractor before” then they should bear the responsibility to equip the tractor with ballast.
I know where you're coming from on this suggestion, but that puts the onus on the dealer to determine whether the person is qualified to operate a tractor or not. How do they do that? And for the dealers that insist on selling the ballast box with the tractor - are they selling it empty?? What if the dingdong new tractor owner says "well, I had this thing on the back of my tractor that was supposed to make it safe, but it still flipped over" because they never filled the box??? Just think of all of the "what should I put in my ballast box?" threads that have been started here on GTT.

At some point, Dealers are probably going to have to start showing some sort of safety video to customers before they take delivery. It wouldn't surprise me if some sort of "test" was required as well.

Totally disagree with the verdict. As someone mentioned above, it's doubtful that any of the jurors had much, if any, experience with a tractor. That was probably done on purpose by the plaintiff's attorney. But leaving the decision solely up to a judge isn't always the best thing either. How many of them have any real world experience with much of anything??? Keep in mind that most judges are really just elected hacks. But, back to the verdict - I wonder how many "oh, crap!" moments the deceased had prior to rolling his tractor? Did the accident that killed him happen the first time out? If he owned the tractor for a while and had some hours on it, should he have already figured out that if the front is heavy and the rear is light that he might have a problem?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,718 Posts
Along with all tractors having a fixed ROPS and made so the tractor won’t move without the seatbelt engaged.
SHHHHH you are giving them more ideas!!!!!

It is why we have the safeties that we have today. Some are fine but others are a pain. For instance the RIO on my X585. I felt it was more of a risk than protecting anything. It is harder to hold up on it to back up while mowing as you twist around to see behind the machine than it is it just let me back up. But some lawsuit was filed because someone backed up over a kid. I find it interesting that they put that safety on my X585 but I could cut my entire yard going backwards with my Z950R if I wanted and no safety would interfere with the process. I have even less visibility behind the Z950R going backwards (absolutely none with the MCS) than I do with the X585 but they didn't put a safety on it. Maybe it is simply because customers would flip out as you would constantly fight it doing a 3pt turn with a ZTR or maybe because it is less likely that an inexperienced user would buy one. Makes me wonder if there is some safety on the less expensive entry level ZTRs???
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,940 Posts
If you manufacture, and sell equipment, it should be safe to run coming from the dealership. Ballast shouldn’t be another expensive add on. It should come with the loader
Except that some purchasers already own ballast they intend to use.

Ballast is flexible. So much in the tires and/or so much wheel weight, and/or so much on the hitch.

There are way to many variables with ballast for smaller, multipurpose tractors to make it a standard add to the loader package.

Bottom line it has been and always will be the individuals responsibility to understand what they are doing.

The tractor manuals have more than enough information in them that anyone could read and could understand. Likely, many don't even crack the manual open.

How many "new owners" come here and post something like - 'I read this in my manual and I don't understand what they are trying to tell me?', as opposed to the typical 'How much _ _ _ _ do I need? or 'Can I just _ _ _ _?

How many questions asked on this site alone could be answered with "READ YOUR OWNERS MANUAL"!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
79 Posts
Here's the thing I struggle with about this whole thing. I don't have my 120R loader manual in front of me at the moment, but I'm pretty sure it says I'm supposed to have a minimum of 800 pounds of rear ballast, AND filled tires, AND wheel weights. The quality of dealers vary a lot across the country. I love my dealer and he spec'd out a ballast box when I first asked him to run me a quote. I told him I was going to get a heavy hitch so he removed the ballast box. We had no conversation about filling tires or adding wheel weights or that because of Deere's specs I should be buying 16 of the 42 pound weights from him versus only 8. After getting home and reading the manual (and honestly...after reading a lot of information here on GTT) I checked into getting tires filled and I had a heck of a time finding a place (I live in Des Moines IA). My dealer doesn't fill tires. So if my dealer doesn't provide that service, then every single 2 series with loader that leaves the lot doesn't meet Deere's stated minimums for ballast.

I hate lawsuits stemming from accidents just as much as many of you. I agree that operators of equipment accept risk that they're using the machine correctly. I also think that even when you're using a machine correctly, uncontrollable things happen really fast.

It just seems weird to me that to meet my minimum rear ballast needs, I have to have my tires filled somewhere other than my dealer. And honestly, could I have even gotten 800 pounds into a ballast box? I don't fault Deere. I guess i'm just saying that if the "minimums" are really "minimums" to operate safely, then all dealers should be well informed to have that conversation. I have no knowledge of the conversation that happened with this gentlemen and his dealer, but from my limited experience I do think that this is an area where many John Deere dealers could do better.

Just my opinion. I'm not looking to offend or upset anyone. Sometimes tragedies are good reminders for us to all be careful and listen to that inner voice that sometimes tells us when we're starting to do something that might be a little sketchy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,545 Posts
..but a dealer needs to determine what experience a prospective buyer has.
I too am going to disagree with this Stan. Just take the 1 series alone, the dealers would be turning away probably no less than 75% of their potential customers due to lack of or no experience at all.
I do agree with Mark, there will likely be some training videos or some other "cover your a$$" garbage coming down the line. Maybe they'll bring back the tractor safety courses of yesteryear like we had when I was growing up. But then again, those courses didn't apply to itsy bitsy tractors. We've all seen videos of new tractor owners with no experience drive into a pile to get a bucket of dirt, and then raise the bucket up while driving so they can see better.
Make no mistake about it, this is a tragedy in every possible way. A son, husband and likely a father has lost his life far too young, but it likely could have been avoided by doing something as simple as reading the manual. In no way is John Deere responsible for this, though I'm willing to bet it is somewhat common practice for dealers to "skip" or skim through the orientation.
 
1 - 20 of 160 Posts
Top