Court Finds Manufacturer Not Liable for Plaintiff’s Injuries Based on a Third-Party’s Misuse of the Product

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that presents an important issue that potential Maryland product liability plaintiffs should understand. The plaintiff in the case was seriously injured when the rear glass door of a truck bed cover fell onto his head unexpectedly. The court had to determine if the manufacturer of the truck bed cover could be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

Shattered GlassThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff worked for a fire department, which owned a pick-up truck. The fire department purchased a truck bed cover for one of the department’s vehicles, which consisted of a hard-top cover for the bed and a glass rear door to access the bed when the truck’s pick-up gate was open.

One day, the plaintiff went to retrieve some items from inside the bed of the truck. He lifted the glass door and leaned in. However, as he retrieved the items, the glass door fell onto his head, causing serious injuries.

The plaintiff filed a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the truck bed cover. However, it was later established that the fire department had installed an “Extendobed” product on the truck. The Extendobed product helped customers retrieve items in the rear of a truck by creating a sliding shelf that a customer could pull out, rather than climb into the rear of the truck.

A post-accident investigation conducted by one of the plaintiff’s colleagues revealed that the glass door fell due to a damaged gas strut. Apparently, the gas struts that were designed to hold up the glass door had been damaged when the Extendobed slipped out and made contact with the strut.

The evidence suggested that the manufacturer of the truck bed cover also made a similar product to the Extendobed, and that the manufacturer was not aware that a third-party had manufactured a competing product. The evidence also showed that there had only been two prior instances of a failed gas strut, but they were seemingly random and the manufacturer attempted to re-create the accident in hopes of preventing further accidents, but was unable to find out why the strut had failed.

The Court’s Opinion

The court concluded that the defendant manufacturer was not liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. First, the court noted that there was no evidence that the truck bed cover or the glass door were defective. However, the court went on to explain that a manufacturer can be held liable in situations where a customer’s misuse of the product was foreseeable. However, despite the plaintiff’s arguments to the contrary, the court held that the fire department’s act of installing a non-conforming, third-party part in the truck was not foreseeable. Thus, the court determined that the plaintiff’ case should be dismissed.

Have You Been Injured by a Dangerous Product?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured by a dangerous product, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Maryland product liability lawsuit. The dedicated Maryland personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers are experienced in bringing all types of product liability cases in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C, including those involving defective vehicles and automotive parts. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule your free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Court Finds Used-Car Dealer May Be Liable for Plaintiffs’ Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published June 4, 2018.

The Dangers of Fatigued Driving in Maryland, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published June 18, 2018.

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