Florida Court Discusses Evidence in Product Liability Cases

Each day, people are injured throughout Florida by use of defective products. In many instances, people harmed by an unsafe device or machine are able to file product liability lawsuits to pursue damages from the product’s manufacturer. Typically, a plaintiff in a product liability case will need to retain an expert to testify as to the manner in which the product was unsafe. In a recent case, a Florida court discussed the parameters for admitting expert opinions regarding alternative designs. If you were hurt by an unsafe product, you may be able to recover damages and should consult a capable Florida product liability attorney as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff worked as the manager of the meat-market at a supermarket in Florida. During a busy Sunday, he was cutting meat with a band saw manufactured by the defendant. He became distracted and turned away from the saw. When he returned to the saw, he reached for a tool, and his arm was amputated by the saw’s unguarded blade. The plaintiff then filed a product liability lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that the design of the saw was unsafe.

It is alleged that during the trial, the plaintiff presented expert testimony regarding other designs the defendant could have employed that would have been safer. The defendant asked the court to provide the jury with a state of the art defense instruction, but the court declined. The jury found in favor of the plaintiff, and the defendant appealed on several grounds, including the argument that the trial court erred in declining the provide the jury with the requested instruction.

State of the Art Instructions in Product Liability Cases

Under Florida law, a judge or jury in a product liability case alleging defective design must consider the state of the art of technical and scientific knowledge and other circumstances that were present at the time the product was designed rather than the time the injury occurred. Thus, it is a defense that the product was safe in consideration of the technology available at the time it was manufactured.

The court assumed that the state of the art defense applied to both strict liability and negligence claims. While the appellate court found that the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on the state of the art defense, it found that it did not constitute a reversible error. Specifically, the court explained that the parties agreed as to the state of the art technology that was available when the product was designed. Thus, the issue of whether the defendant applied such knowledge adequately or whether such an application was feasible was an issue for the jury. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Trusted Florida Attorney

Dangerous products can cause serious injuries, and in many cases, they are permanent. If you were harmed by an unsafe product, you should contact an attorney to determine whether you may be able to pursue a claim for damages. The trusted Florida product liability attorneys of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. are adept at helping injured parties fight to protect their interests, and we will diligently pursue the best outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can reach us via our online form or by calling 800-283-7442 to set up a meeting.

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