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May 17, 2004
"The Last Rung"
The nation's oldest ladder manufacturer, family-owned John S. Tilley Ladders Co. of Watervliet, N.Y., near Albany, has filed for bankruptcy protection and sold off most of its assets. Founded in 1855, the Tilley firm was profitable until a few years ago but could not handle the cost of liability insurance, which had risen from 6 percent of sales a decade ago to 29.4 percent by the end, even though the company wasn't sued often and had never lost an actual court judgment. Jury awards in product liability cases have jumped from "an average of $1.7 million in 1994 to $6 million in 2002". "We could see the handwriting on the wall and just want to end this whole thing," says Robert Howland, a descendant of company founder John Tilley. (Carrie Coolidge, Forbes, Jan. 12).
[cross-posted from Overlawyered, where it ran Jan. 5, 2004]
Posted by Walter Olson at 07:51 PM
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