Although foreseeability is often said to be an issue which is left for the jury in products liability cases, RLF recently obtained summary judgment in favor of a manufacturer on that very issue. In granting the motion for summary judgment and dismissing the case, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma found, among other things, that plaintiff used the product in an unforeseeable manner and that the manufacturer, therefore, had no duty to warn of risks associated with that use.
The lawsuit arose after the plaintiff, a highway patrol trooper, sustained catastrophic injuries during firearms training. The plaintiffs originally claimed that the product in question was defectively designed and that the manufacturer failed to provide adequate warnings. The training in question was both unusual and in violation of common firearm safety rules and practices. RLF established that the drill was created by and performed only by plaintiff’s agency and that plaintiff and his fellow troopers knew that the drill contradicted notions of firearms safety and warnings provided by the manufacturer. Having established these facts, RLF was able to obtain critical concessions from plaintiffs’ experts which supported summary judgment.
The Court concluded that plaintiffs had failed to meet their burden of proof in numerous ways. In particular, it found that there was no evidence that any other agency in the world performed this training exercise, that the plaintiff and his instructors knew the training exercise violated warnings provided by the manufacturer and common firearms safety rules and practices, and that the risks associated with doing so should have been open and obvious. As such, the Court dismissed the case in its entirety. A copy of the Court’s decision is available here. For more information about this case or to see how RLF can put its comprehensive litigation approach to work for you, please contact John Renzulli, Christopher Renzulli or Edwin Brondo.