Fitzpatrick & Hunt Wins Summary Judgment on Product Liability Claim

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois granted Sierra International Machinery, LLC’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s strict product liability claim. John M. Socolow, partner, of Fitzpatrick & Hunt, Pagano, Aubert, LLP handled the case for the firm, representing Sierra.

The plaintiff sustained serious injury when he fell off of a mobile car logger/baler while performing daily maintenance. The car logger/baler was designed and manufactured in Italy, and then sold in the United States by Sierra. The plaintiff filed suit in Illinois state court, which Sierra removed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. The plaintiff alleged a claim for strict product liability against Sierra.

On June 25, 2018, the Court granted summary judgment, finding that the plaintiff failed to present sufficient expert evidence and held that plaintiff’s expert’s proposed alternative design was “nothing but conjecture: he repeatedly demonstrated at his deposition that he does not understand how to perform daily maintenance on the machine.” The Court also rejected plaintiff’s belated attempt to pursue a failure to warn claim, finding that: (i) no such claim was ever alleged; and (ii) the request to amend the complaint to allege failure to warn was "a hornbook example of undue delay."