Under a product liability theory, manufacturers can be held liable for dangerous products that they release into the stream of commerce. However, not only can manufacturers be held liable, but also retailers and distributors may be held liable under certain circumstances. When a court considers a product liability case, there are several factors that may come into play, as was evidenced by a recent case in front of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Parks v. Ariens: The Facts
Parks was fatally injured when the riding lawnmower he was operating rolled while Parks was negotiating a sloped surface. Parks’ wife then filed a product liability case against the dealer who had sold her husband the lawnmower, arguing that the dealer was negligent in failing to supply the mower with a roll cage and seatbelt.
The defendant answered the claim by explaining that it was not his duty to supply the roll cage and seatbelt. Indeed, the defendant presented evidence that it was his normal practice to ask customers if they want to purchase the roll cage and seatbelt as optional equipment at an additional cost. While there was no documentation that Parks turned down this offer, the dealer explained that it was his normal practice to explain this to his customers, and he could not recall anything different occurring in this case.
The court then had to decide if the lawnmower was dangerous on its own, without the roll cage and seatbelt mechanisms, and if the defendant was negligent for selling it in that condition. The court ultimately decided that the defendant was not negligent. First, the court explained that the plaintiff would be in the best position to determine if the additional safety features were necessary, and it was not negligent for the dealer to sell a unit without a roll cage and seatbelt. The court explained that the sole purpose of the mower was to cut grass, and it was perfectly safe for cutting grass on a flat surface. Thus, many potential buyers would not need the roll cage and seatbelt mechanisms. Therefore, it was not negligent for the dealer to provide the base model mower with an option of purchasing additional safety equipment at an additional cost. Because of the court’s ruling, Parks’ wife will not be entitled to monetary compensation from the dealer who sold her husband the lawnmower. However, there may be other parties available, such as the manufacturer, against whom she could file a product liability case.
Have You Been Injured by a Dangerous Product?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured by a dangerous product, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Maryland product liability lawsuit. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the Maryland law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have decades of experience bringing cases on behalf of their injured clients. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with no risk or obligation. In fact, you will not be billed for a moment of their time unless they are ultimately able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
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Court Finds “Public Duty” Doctrine Applies, Preventing Government Liability in Boating Accident, Maryland Accident Law Blog, July 12, 2016.
Latest Court Decision in GM Ignition Switch Saga May Benefit Some Accident Victims, Maryland Accident Law Blog, August 1, 2016.