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Malin Obtains Defense Verdict in Product Liability Matter

On May 20, 2022 attorney Michael Malin obtained a defense verdict on a strict product liability matter in Schuylkill County. After a five day trial the 12 person jury took only 10 minutes to return a unanimous defense verdict. The matter involved injuries caused when the plaintiff was attempting to adjust the forks on an 8,000 pound forklift and accidently pulled one of the forks completely off the forklift. The 120 pound fork fell on his right foot causing crush injuries. Plaintiff claimed that the accident happened because the forklift was missing a factory installed safety device called a “load backrest extension.” It was undisputed that Plaintiff suffered permanent injuries and permanent physical limitations that affected his ability to work.

The case was made more complex legally due to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling in Tincher v. Omega Flex, Inc., 628 Pa. 296 (2014), which re-wrote the law of strict product liability in Pennsylvania, resulting in many key issues of proof and evidence still unresolved by the Supreme and Superior Courts. Two of those issues in the case were the admissibility of OSHA rules governing forklifts and the extent to which Plaintiff’s lack of training on the subject forklift would be admissible. The Court prohibited the admission of the OSHA rules, which were highly favorable to the defense, but permitted evidence of Plaintiff’s lack of training. The court found that OSHA rules are inadmissible under the “consumer expirations” standard of Tincher but that Plaintiff’s lack of training went directly to the questions of the identity of the user, a key factor under Tincher’s “consumer expectation” standard.

Malin had the invaluable assistance of paralegal Joseph Vivone during trial preparations and vocation expert Maria Babenitz and mechanical engineering expert Jack Krafchick during trial.