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A cringe-inducing genital injury to a former Alabama farm worker has resulted in a jury award for $4 million in damages.
Gerald Lymon was working with a post hole driller more than five years ago when the drill became entangled in his clothing, eventually stripping the skin from his genitals, AL.com reports.
Why did Lymon's jury feel a multimillion-dollar award was necessary?
Alabama's Employer Liability Act
According to AL.com, Lymon filed suit in an Alabama state court in August 2010, naming his boss, Wylie Joe Kendrick, as well as Kendrick Farms and Kendrick Logging LLC as defendants. Lymon was only a temporary worker for Kendrick, and the farm company's attorneys argued that Lymon was injured because he was improperly using the drilling equipment.
A jury didn't see it that way. Under the Alabama Employer Liability Act, injuries to employees while on the job can be treated as if the employee was simply a stranger injured on the employer's property -- as long as the employer's negligence or unsafe work environment caused the injury.
Both state and federal laws provide that employers must ensure a safe working environment for their employees, even if the employee is working around potentially dangerous farm equipment. Employers can also be found negligent if they fail to properly train employees in using dangerous equipment and can be found responsible for the resulting injuries.
In Lymon's case, it's likely that a jury found that Kendrick did not properly train Lymon or other employees in using the post hole driller, which led to the worker's genital skinning.
What Kind of Damages?
Any time a victim like Lymon has been injured causing disfigurement or mutilation that would cause serious mental suffering, a jury may award monetary damages for that anguish. There was likely testimony to the extent in which Lymon's injuries still affect his daily depression or anxiety, and the nature of his genital injuries likely swayed the jury toward recovery.
Lymon may have also collected pain and suffering damages as part of the $4 million jury award. When considering pain and suffering, jurors are asked to reasonably compensate a victim for non-economic losses (e.g., things other than medical bills).