Kunsch secures defense verdict in Middle District Product Liability Case

After six days of trial, Sweeney & Sheehan partner and USLAW Board member Michael Kunsch obtained a defense verdict in favor of Louisville Ladder and W.W. Grainger in a product liability case in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The jury deliberated for less than one hour in reaching its unanimous verdict, with Chief Judge Yvette Kane presiding.

Plaintiff alleged that he suffered orthopedic injuries and a traumatic brain injury as the result of falling from a 6’ aluminum stepladder at work. Engineers retained on his behalf opined that the ladder was defectively designed and collapsed while plaintiff was standing on the fourth step of the ladder. They offered alternate designs of the bottom step and the gussets. The defendants established that the ladder was safe for its intended uses, complied with applicable design standards and OSHA regulations, and could not have failed in the manner alleged by plaintiff. Further, the defendants established that damage to the ladder seen post-accident was caused by, and not the cause of, the accident.

Plaintiff proceeded to trial under strict liability and negligence. Following the Third Circuit’s prediction that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will adopt the provisions of §§1 and 2 of the Restatement (Third) of Torts: Product Liability, the Court ruled prior to trial that those provisions, and not Restatement (Second) § 402A, applied to plaintiff’s strict liability claims. The jury found no negligence and also that the ladder was not defective.