Kerle v. Defendant

A twenty four year old male who worked as a laborer for a tree service, died as the result of an injury when the trunk of a tree fell on his head. He was wearing a protective helmet at the time. OSHA investigated the accident and took possession of the helmet. The father, as legal representative, retained an attorney to investigate the accident, and to bring an action against responsible parties. The attorney failed to perform any meaningful investigation of the accident, never sought to obtain or preserve the helmet as evidence, and ultimately withdrew from representing the estate. Keith L. Miller was then retained and his investigation uncovered police and newspaper photographs, which clearly depicted that the protective helmet had cracked and failed on impact. However, by the time he made inquiry, OSHA had disposed of the helmet, making it impossible to proceed against the manufacturer. Mr. Miller brought an action in Middlesex Superior Court against the attorney alleging that he had negligently failed to investigate the accident or preserve crucial evidence, losing any opportunity to make a claim against the helmet manufacturer. The parties mediated and settled the case prior to trial with a six figure settlement for the estate.