Will a Fourth State Reject Product Maker-Friendly Test?
By Martina Barash
May 25—Three states supreme courts recently declined to throw out a plaintiff friendly test for determining defects in product liability cases, and the framework for strict liability claims that often goes with it.
Will a rollover widow’s case in Nevada add a fourth?
In the case, plaintiff Theresa Garcia Trejo was awarded $4.5 million after a jury was instructed to use an ordinary consumer’s reasonable expectations to determine whether the roof design of an older Ford sport utility vehicle was defective.
Ford Motor Co. has appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.
It argues the jury should have been instructed instead to weigh the roof design’s risks versus its benefits when assessing defectiveness, in Ford Motor Co. v. Trejo, Nev., No. 67843, briefing completed 4/11/16.
The jury should also have weighed whether an alternative, safer feasible design existed, the car maker says.
Whether the court will side with Trejo and – like Pennsylvania, Florida and Connecticut before it—keep the older consumer-expectations framework for product liability cases is significant.
Selected State That Have Adopted Aspects of the Restatement (Third) South Caroline—Branham v. Ford Motor Co., 701 S.E.2d 5 (S.C. 2010), a case involving vehicle rollover;
Iowa—Wright v. Brooke Group Ltd., 652 N.W.2d 159 (Iowa 2002), a case involving cigarettes;
New Jersey—Myrlak v. Port Auth. Of N.Y. and N.J., 723 A.2d 45 (N.J. 1999), a case involving movable desk chairs;
Massachusetts—Vassallo v. Baxter Healthcare Corp., 696 N.E.2d 909 (mass. 1998), a case involving silicone breast implants.
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