The Legal Intelligencer reported on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to take up Sullivan v. Werner Company to address whether a trial court ruling barring jurors in a products liability case from hearing industry and governmental safety standards went against the high court’s Tincher v. Omega Flex decision in 2014, which ruled that strict liability can be established regardless of whether a seller exercised all possible care in designing or selling a product.
Attorney Jeffrey Laffey said, “A product manufacturer who could state their product complies with minimum standards is asking the jury to take on the industry instead of the product. In this case we had products within the same industry that were designed differently and the products the jury saw—other than the subject product—were clearly safer. Yet the product in question still had the stamp of approval by OSHA.”
The Pennsylvania Superior Court opinion originally upheld a $2.5 million verdict obtained on behalf of a union carpenter who sustained serious injuries when a scaffold’s platform collapsed. The opinion upheld and affirmed the trial judge’s preclusion of evidence that the design of the scaffold complied with standards issue by the scaffold industry. It is one of the first decisions that has provided guidance since the pivotal decision in Tincher v. Omega Flex, which created new standards by which a plaintiff must prove that a product is defective.
Read the full article here: ‘For Better or Worse’: Pa. Justices to Decide Admissibility of Industry Standards in Post-‘Tincher’ Products Liability (subscription required)