• Pennsylvania Superior Court Upholds Defense Verdict In Product Liability Case Where Industry Standard Evidence Was Introduced At Trial.
  • July 14, 2017
  • The jury in this strict product liability action returned a defense verdict, finding that the defendant did not supply a defective product under the risk-utility analysis. At trial, the defendant was permitted to introduce evidence of ANSI standards, OSHA safety standards and the plaintiff’s alleged assumption of risk. On appeal, the plaintiffs failed to specifically challenge the admissibility of the ANSI standards, instead focusing on the introduction of the alleged OSHA violations by the plaintiff’s employer. In affirming the judgment, the Superior Court “assumed without deciding” that the trial court erred by admitting evidence pertaining to the conduct of the plaintiff’s employer. Nevertheless, since the jury ultimately concluded that the product was not defective, it did not have cause to consider evidence pertaining to the defendant’s affirmative defenses of the employer’s negligence and/or the plaintiff’s comparative negligence. Thus, the Superior Court ruled that any purported error on the part of the trial court was harmless. The Superior Court went on, in dicta, to discuss the effect of the Supreme Court’s decision in Tincher on the admissibility of industry standard in product liability cases. In so doing, the Superior Court cited case law from California and Illinois as illustrative of the competing arguments for and against the admission of such evidence. Although the Superior Court clearly rejected the plaintiff’s “very narrow reading of Tincher,” it refused to go any further because neither party to the appeal “[o]ffered any substantive argument for or against the admission of such evidence in Pennsylvania after Tincher.”