A Houston jury has awarded $8.4 million in a products liability lawsuit to the family of a man who bled to death after being caught in a piece of heavy machinery used for mulching trees.

The lawsuit was filed by the family of Ricardo “Rick” Garza, a highly regarded petroleum engineering consultant and former Navy officer who served on nuclear submarines. Mr. Garza’s widow and two adult sons filed the lawsuit against the equipment seller, Bobcat of Houston, and North Dakota-based Clark Equipment Company, manufacturer of the Bobcat compact track loader. The case included claims for negligence, gross negligence, and wrongful death.

The Garza family was represented by Chrysta Castañeda and Nicole Michael of Dallas’ The Castañeda Firm. Marla Broaddus, Craig Enoch and Zackery Horton of Enoch Kever also represented the Plaintiffs. 

“This case was incredibly important to me because I knew Rick personally and professionally,” says Ms. Castañeda. “I am thankful the jury recognized that this terrible tragedy would not have happened if proper safety measures had been in place.”

Jurors in Judge Cory Don Sepolio’s 269th District Court in Houston issued the verdict on February 1, 2023, after 10 days of trial. The case is Maria Delfina Garza, et al. v. Bobcat of Houston, et al., No. 2019-69076.

Bobcat of Houston sold the Bobcat loader and the Fecon forestry attachment that were being used to mulch trees on the Garzas’ property on October 27, 2017, when Garza was struck by the still-spinning forestry attachment that lacked a rotor brake. It amputated his leg and removed portions of his back, resulting in massive blood loss and his death nearly 6 hours later.

Mr. Garza served as the expert witness in the 2016 lawsuit where Ms. Castañeda helped oilman T. Boone Pickens and his company, Mesa Petroleum Partners, win a $145 million verdict. It ranked as the nation’s 12th largest verdict that year. Mr. Garza discussed his work on the case in an interview following the trial.