U.S. Court of Appeals Affirms Exclusion of Plaintiff’s Expert Witness and Summary Judgment in Product Liability Lawsuit

The U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, affirmed the trial court’s decision that granted the defendant manufacturer’s (Clark Equipment Co.) motion to exclude the plaintiff’s expert witness and for summary judgment in the plaintiff’s strict product liability lawsuit. In this case, it was alleged that the plaintiff was injured because of the design defect in the Clark Equipment’s skid-steer loader when the loader tipped over on the plaintiff and severely damaged his leg, foot and ankle.

The plaintiff’s-controlled experts stated that the design of the loader, which provided for a 62-inch low-profile bucket, made it highly likely that the loader would tip over on plaintiff when the bucket would have been loaded in excess of 1,300-1,400 lb. capacity. The appeals court also ruled that the district court could properly find that the expert’s opinion did not meet the standard set forth in Federal Rules of Evidence 702 and Daubert, since:

(1) the expert had never used the skid-steer loader to pick up or move material and had not tested this design theory on neither the instant loader or similar loaders of equipment; (2) the evidence from others regarding operation of the loader did not support the expert’s opinion, where the individuals disclaim any personal knowledge or experience with other tipping or bouncing incidents; (3) the expert did not know the weight of the load that plaintiff was lifting at the time of the incident and thus this expert could only speculate that the size of the bucket was cause of the injuries to plaintiff; and (4) the expert chose not to account for and investigate potential alternative causes of this incident.

Also, the district court did not err in granting defendant’s motion for summary judgment, where the plaintiff failed to present any valid expert witness testimony regarding whether the instant specialized piece of industrial equipment had a defective design that caused this plaintiff’s injuries.

Kirk v. Clark Equipment Co., No. 20-2983, 7th Cir. Court of Appeals (March 25, 2021)

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling catastrophic injury lawsuits, product liability cases, forklift accident cases, and work injury lawsuits for individuals, families and loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 45 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Orland Park, Palatine, Glencoe, Zion, Joliet, Naperville, Romeoville, Mokena, Beecher, Frankfort, Hickory Hills, Alsip, South Holland, Chicago (Albany Park, Garfield Ridge, Princeton Park, River West, Ravenswood Manor, Irving Park, Hyde Park, Libertyville, West Loop, Mount Greenwood, Near West Side, North Center), Gurnee, Crystal Lake, Hoffman Estates and River Grove, Ill.

Robert D. Kreisman has been an active member of the Illinois and Missouri bars since 1976.

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