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We know who Determines if the Bag O' Glass is Unreasonably Dangerous . . . but what About Utilitarian Products?

Bag O Glass.jpg

The Case:

Genie Indus., Inc. v. Matak, 2012 Tex. App. LEXIS 10103 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi Dec. 6, 2012, pet. granted)

The Brief Facts:

A worker died as the result of falling from a forty foot platform lift. The fall happened when the lift was moved while in the raised position and after disengaging the stabilizing outriggers.

At trial, the worker's family prevailed on a design defect claim. The lift manufacturer appealed. The manufacturer argued that there was legally insufficient evidence that the lift was defectively designed.

The Corpus Christi Court of Appeals Affirmed:

The Court addressed the risk-utility analysis used to determine if a product is unreasonably dangerous. The Court noted while addressing this issue that it is normally a question of fact for the jury, but can be decided as a matter of law where reasonable minds cannot differ. The Court focused on the fact that the lift manufacturer testified that it knew of the hazard from the lift being moved while raised, as well as conflicting testimony about the use of the lift while raised, and determined this was a fact issue for the jury.

What to Take Away:

The Texas Supreme Court granted the petition for review in this matter and heard oral argument on September 17, 2014. We will soon have a better picture of the sufficiency of the evidence needed to submit an issue to a jury on whether a product is unreasonably dangerous.

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