TOPEKA, Kansas — A Kansas jury has awarded over $11 million to a man who was paralyzed after his shoulder became caught in a grapple attachment while riding on the front of a Kubota skid steer. Kolton Kincaid, who was 17 years old at the time and working part-time for a farm service company, filed a lawsuit against Kubota Tractor Corp. in 2013, claiming that there was no warning sticker on the skid steer regarding the danger.
Court records reveal that the incident occurred when Kincaid was riding on the outside of the skid steer along with another teenage friend, driven by one of Kincaid’s high school friends. As they were traveling across a large, muddy field to reach a worksite, the skid steer approached a ravine with standing water. The operator raised the loader arms and grapple attachment, trapping Kincaid’s shoulder between the attachment and the cab’s roof overhang. This resulted in severe spinal cord injury, rendering Kincaid a paraplegic.
Although the skid steer and its operator’s manual contained warnings advising against carrying riders and prohibiting passengers from riding on any part of the machine, an expert testified on Kincaid’s behalf, stating that there was no specific warning against riding in the position where Kincaid was seated, nor was there a warning about the risk of being crushed. The expert further noted that young people without proper training might perceive riding on a skid steer to be safe and remain unaware of the associated dangers.
Kubota argued that the existing warnings on the skid steer and its manual were sufficient, maintaining that no further warnings were required under state law. Initially, a district court sided with Kubota, attributing Kincaid’s injury not to riding on the skid steer, but rather to the operator raising the grapple attachment while he was on it.
However, in 2020, the Kansas Court of Appeals overturned the district court’s decision, ruling that negligence is a question of fact for the jury, not a legal question for the court. Consequently, on November 14, 2023, the jury found in favor of Kincaid, stating that there should have been explicit warnings regarding the crushing danger. As a result, Kubota was ordered to pay $11,138,422.40 to cover Kincaid’s medical expenses, pain, suffering, and mental anguish both in the past and future.
Represented by Michael Wyatt and Jesse Tanksley from Mann Wyatt Tanksley Injury Attorneys, Kincaid’s legal team expressed hope that the verdict would prompt Kubota to reassess its safety practices and implement warnings to prevent future injuries. They emphasized the importance of holding Kubota accountable publicly and ensuring that Kincaid receives necessary medical treatment and support for his interest in paraplegia advocacy and adaptive sports.
Kubota has not provided a comment on the ruling, stating that it does not comment on pending litigation.