Earlier this month, the Federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a written opinion affirming an $11 million jury verdict in a product liability case brought by a man who was injured while using a ladder manufactured by the defendant. The defendant’s appeal involved evidentiary challenges to the plaintiff’s two expert witnesses as well as a challenge to the sufficiency of the plaintiff’s claim.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was a homeowner who was using a ladder manufactured by the defendant to replace some rusted screws in the gutter above his garage. As the plaintiff was making the repairs, the ladder buckled under his weight, sending him to the ground. The plaintiff struck his head on the ground and suffered bleeding in the frontal lobe of his brain as a result. The bleeding caused the plaintiff to suffer from seizures, dementia, and quadriplegia.
The plaintiff filed a product liability lawsuit against the defendant manufacturer. At trial, the plaintiff presented two witnesses whose collective testimony established that the ladder was not fit to support a 200-pound user and that the plaintiff had been using the ladder in an appropriate manner at the time of the accident. The defendant objected to the admission of the experts’ testimony on several grounds, but the trial court allowed the experts’ testimony.
In response, the defendant presented its own expert witness to counter the testimony of the plaintiff’s experts. The defendant expert testified that the ladder was capable of supporting a 200-pound person and that the manner in which the plaintiff was using the ladder was not in line with the recommended use. The plaintiff and defense experts relied on different scientific methodologies in making their assessments. After a jury trial, the plaintiff was awarded $11 million. The defendant’s post-trial motions were denied, and the defendant then appealed the decision.
On appeal, the jury’s verdict was upheld. The court agreed with the trial court that the plaintiff’s experts should have been allowed to testify. In so holding, the court examined the methodologies used by the plaintiff’s experts and determined that they had been tested, peer reviewed, evaluated in light of potential error rates, and accepted by the general scientific community. Thus, the experts’ methodologies met the standard required for expert testimony to be admissible. Since the plaintiff’s expert testimony was properly admitted and considered by the jury, the jury’s decision to find in favor of the plaintiff should be upheld.
Have You Been Injured in an Indiana Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of an Indiana slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, even seemingly straightforward cases may require expert testimony to establish certain elements. A dedicated attorney can assist you with the preparation and presentation of your case, including the expert-selection process. Call the skilled injury attorneys at Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse at 888-532-7766 to set up a free consultation to discuss your case. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation to continue with your claim unless it is your desire to do so.
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Permits Premises Liability Plaintiff’s Claim for Punitive Damages, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, February 1, 2017
Court Determines that City May Be Liable for Accident Caused by Overgrown Stop Sign, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, January 24, 2017