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Last week, RQN product liability attorneys Rick Rose and Kristy Larsen along with RQN appellate attorney Carol Funk and Co-Counsel from Husch Blackwell LLP successfully defended their client, Raymond Corp. before the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding a product liability suit over a forklift injury.

The plaintiff injured his leg, which led to amputation below the knee, when he lost control while operating a Raymond Model 4200 forklift with an open driver compartment. The plaintiff sued Raymond Corp. alleging strict liability, asserting that the forklift’s open driver compartment made it unreasonably dangerous and defective. The plaintiff’s legal team tried to support their claims with an expert who opined that adding a door on the compartment would have cured this alleged deficiency. However, the plaintiff’s expert failed to identify the specific type of door he believed necessary to remedy this condition.

After review, the district court issued an extensive oral ruling excluding the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony that, in general, a door presented a safer, alternative design option. It reasoned that although the plaintiff’s expert was qualified to offer this opinion, he failed to offer a specific safer, alternative design and thus failed to reliably support his opinion. Because the plaintiff lacked expert testimony that a safer, alternative design existed at the time of his injuries, he could not meet his burden for a strict liability claim under Utah law. The district court granted summary judgment in Raymond’s favor. On appeal, the 10th Circuit affirmed the district court exclusion of testimony and summary judgment in favor of Raymond Corp.

Ray Quinney & Nebeker’s Product Liability attorneys defend manufacturers, distributors, and dealers in wrongful death, catastrophic personal injury and other product liability claims in state and federal courts throughout Utah and the Intermountain West.

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