Summary Judgment granted for bicycle manufacturer and retailer on a breach of warranty and product liability claim.Posted: September 20, 2010
This is an odd case and one that probably was filed simply to recover money. Everyone once in a while, that happens.
In this case, the plaintiff purchased a Cannondale bicycle from The Bicycle Center. A month later while riding the bike, he went over the handle bar. His injuries were never specified in the complaint. Three years later, right before the statute of limitations ran, he filed suit against Cannondale and the retailer.
The statute of limitations is the time frame that a lawsuit must be filed. Legislatures have created laws for different types of lawsuits setting forth how long a plaintiff has to file a suit. Another way of looking at this, is defendants know that all lawsuits will be filed within a certain period of time, or they are barred.
Statutes of limitation vary by state. So a simple negligence claim may have a two year statute of limitation in one state and three years in a neighboring state.
The plaintiff filed suit for “breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, breach of certain express warranties, and products liability.” He also filed a claim for “negligent assembly” against the retailer.
The plaintiff claimed that something popped off the brake which clamped down the brake on the tire causing him to fall. However, the plaintiff’s expert and the defendant’s expert both testified that if the brake has failed as stated by the plaintiff the opposite would have happened. The brake would have released from the wheel not braking at all.
The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the lawsuit. The plaintiff then appealed the decision leading to this decision.
The plaintiff claimed at the appellate level that the doctrine of spoliation of evidence applied to this case. This doctrine says that if one party to a lawsuit destroys evidence than the evidence can still be introduced with the court will infer the evidence in the light most suitable to the other party.
However, that legal doctrine did not apply in this case because if any evidence was destroyed it was destroyed prior to the suit. The doctrine only applies once a party is on notice of a claim. You cannot destroy evidence if you don’t know the object being destroyed is evidence.
Generally there is no duty on the part of someone making repairs or a retailer to retain defective parts. A major exception to that rule is electronic communications, which is too broad to cover in this discussion.
The court also agreed that there was no product liability claim because there was no causation. Legal causation is proof that the defect lead to the injury. In this case, the plaintiff could not identify a specific defect; therefore, there was no causation or relationship to his injury. The plaintiff must identify the specific product liability defect to prove a case and cannot just claim the product failed.
Under Utah’s laws on product liability to win a product liability claim the plaintiff must prove.
“(1) that the product was unreasonably dangerous due to a defect or defective condition, (2) that the defect existed at the time the product was sold, and (3) that the defective condition was a cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.”
To win the plaintiff must prove more than the product just failed. The failure must have existed at the time the product was sold and the failure must have caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
Everyone once in a while someone files a lawsuit for money. In this case, the plaintiff testified that he thought about the lawsuit after seeing a program on TV about Melvin Belli, a famous California attorney.
Just filing a lawsuit and having an injury is not enough to win a lawsuit or recover damages. Here the plaintiff and the manufacture stuck together to fight this claim. The parties proved that the plaintiff’s claims were bogus because the plaintiff failed.
What do you think? Leave a comment.
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