The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in an important ruling overturned a lower court’s ruling dismissing a failure-to-warn claim against Evenflo Co. Inc. The lawsuit involved serious skull injuries that an infant suffered in a 2005 crash when his Evenflo car seat separated from the base. The ruling calls for a new trial on that issue in the case. A three-judge panel ruled that Tony Hadjih, the father of the child who was 4 months old at the time of the crash, had shown enough evidence to present to a jury his claims that Evenflo should have known, and warned, that the Discovery Infant 316 carriers at issue posed the risk of seats detaching from their bases. The jury found for Evenflo on Hadjih’s design defect claim after a trial.
The lower court in Colorado found for Evenflo on Hadjih’s failure-to-warn claim, ruling that the claim went against the “very nature of what was being sold,” as the product was designed to be used with or without the base. The appeals court panel disagreed, ruling that warning about the configuration of the product would not have compromised its use. “Instead, the warning would simply have allowed consumers to decide based on full information when or whether to trade added safety for added convenience,” the panel ruled.
Evenflo had argued that Plaintiffs bringing a failure-to-warn claim must first show that the warning would have made the product safe, and that in the case of its seat, its warning would not have prevented consumers from using the seat with the base. But the panel found that the warnings would have made the product at least reasonably safe, which it said was the correct standard. The Colorado Supreme Court has backed the idea that a product can meet that reasonably safe standard as long as consumers are informed about ways the product can be used with less risk, according to the opinion. Plaintiffs also do not have to show that a warning would eliminate all risk from a product, the panel said, adding:
Reasonably safe does not mean free from any danger. Evenflo’s reading of Colorado law would allow sellers to keep silent about any latent dangers that cannot be wholly mitigated. Colorado courts have not condoned such a view.
The panel also ruled that the Plaintiff had shown enough proof that Evenflo had the duty to warn of the alleged base separation defect, by pleading, among other things, that it knew that at least 74 customers had reported the very same problem. Hadjih is represented by R. Douglas Gentile, a lawyer with from Kansas City, Mo. The case is A.H. v. Evenflo Co. Inc. in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.