Daniel D. Stofko, Esq. of our Scranton office recently obtained a defense verdict in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, following a four day trial. The matter involved alleged design and manufacturing defects, concerning a wooden chair sold by our client to a national retail store.
Plaintiff alleged to have suffered various injuries after the chair leg broke when he sat upon it while shopping. Through discovery, a question emerged as to whether the chair was on the sales floor itself, or on a raised platform when the Plaintiff sat upon it. Between his deposition and trial, Plaintiff gave conflicting testimony regarding the location of the chair. It was denied that there was any defect in either the design or the manufacture of the chair.
The District Court applied Pennsylvania law: specifically, current Pennsylvania products liability law as set forth by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Tincher v. Omega Flex, 104 A.3d 328 (Pa. 2014).
In defending against Plaintiff’s claims, the defense pointed out that a disinterested third party witness observed the chair on the platform just seconds before the incident occurred. Plaintiff testified at trial that he saw and sat upon the chair on the floor, despite his prior testimony at deposition that he could not remember its location. The Defendant offered the testimony of an expert engineer that the damage to the chair was only consistent with a force having been exerted on the exterior of the chair, given the break pattern in the wood as well as the fact that the hardware attaching the leg to the chair was still firmly attached. A jury of eight unanimously agreed and found that our client’s product was not defective.