- Written by Sam
- Category: Featured News
The Millard County company LiquaDry was found not liable in a lawsuit for the wrongful death of 51-year old Valinda Conk, after a seven-day trial.
The eight-person jury of seven women and one man was selected from a pool of one hundred people over a one-day selection, and achieved their verdict after an hour and a half deliberation on the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 21.
Valinda Conk was killed on February 22, 2012, after her vehicle was involved in a collision with a Ford New Holland tractor allegedly owned by LiquaDry. The tractor was being used by a minor, another defendant in the case, for a local Future Farmers of America (FFA) event on the day of the accident. The incident occurred at the intersection of Cropper Lane and Lone Tree Road (Center Street), south of Delta, at approximately four o’clock in the afternoon.
LiquaDry was being sued by the estate of Conk under the allegations of being liable for allowing an inexperienced, incompetent, or otherwise unsafe driver to operate a piece of farm machinery, which in turn ended in the unexpected loss of her life.
However, the members of the jury felt the company was not responsible, as the minor defendant’s parents had asked LiquaDry for permission to use the tractor previously. The minor had intensive previous experience in the operation of farm machinery, and incompetency was not a believable factor in the original arrangement.
Due to the nature of the case, the verdict was not limited to “guilty” or “not guilty” options; rather, jury members were instructed to decide if they felt LiquaDry was responsible for Conk’s death, as their piece of farm equipment had been involved.
“Had this case been between two separate individuals, the outcome most likely would have been very different,” a juror said. “But, because of the circumstances and evidence, we felt that LiquaDry simply was not liable. We all took our time and deliberated, and this was what we felt was true.”
“This was a tragedy on both sides,” said Ruth Shapiro, attorney for LiquaDry. “This was not a matter of litigating the automobile accident or the tractor accident, but on whether or not LiquaDry was right to loan the tractor for a community event. The jury did its job, and felt it to be a proper decision.”
Shapiro credits the professionalism of the plaintiff attorneys in aiding the quick resolution of the trial. “This was a well tried case with the upmost professionalism.”
The Chronicle Progress reached out to the plaintiff attorneys but was unable to receive comment.