Recently, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case dealing with the admissibility of expert testimony in a product liability lawsuit. Ultimately, the court concluded that since the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony was not admissible, she was unable to prove her failure-to-warn claim. The court then rejected the plaintiff’s defective design case based on the fact that the manufacturer’s warnings were found to be sufficient.
The case is important for Virginia boat accident victims because it illustrates the importance of expert witness testimony in establishing liability.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was injured when she fell off the back of a personal watercraft (PWC). At the time of her injuries, the plaintiff was riding as the fourth passenger on the machine, was wearing only a bikini, and had consumed alcohol prior to boarding the watercraft. It was undisputed that the plaintiff was not in compliance with the warnings contained on the machine, but the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit, claiming that the warnings were defective.
Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the warnings were defective because of their placement on the machine. The plaintiff also claimed that the machine was unreasonably dangerous due to its design. In support of her claim, the plaintiff presented the testimony of a mechanical engineer familiar with the safety regulations and operation of PWCs.
The court, however, determined that the expert’s testimony was inadmissible because it was not based on scientific data. After determining that there was no other evidence indicating that the warnings on the machine were inadequate, the court then dismissed the plaintiff’s failure-to-warn lawsuit.
The court then moved on to the plaintiff’s defective design case, finding that it too failed as a matter of law. The court explained that under the relevant law, a manufacturer was able to avoid liability in a defective design lawsuit by showing that it placed adequate warnings on the product. Here, the court held that since the plaintiff was unable to establish that the warnings on the machine were inadequate, the manufacturer was entitled to rely on those warnings when marketing and selling the product. Thus, the court did not reach the question of whether the PWC was defectively designed, finding instead that even if it was, the manufacturer’s included warnings precluded liability.
Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Watercraft Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia boat accident or other personal watercraft accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Virginia personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Charles B. Roberts, P.C. have extensive experience handling a wide range of Virginia injury claims, including those involving defective or unreasonably dangerous products. To learn more, call 703-491-7070 to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Roberts today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
See More Blog Posts:
Court Precludes Defense Expert from Testifying in Recent Spa Injury Case, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, March 19, 2018.
Court Discusses Admissibility of Plaintiff’s Social Media Account, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, April 2, 2018.