United States Court of Appeals Reverses and Remands Product Liability, Leg Amputation Injury Lawsuit

Adelaida Anderson operated a standup forklift at a FedEx warehouse in Effingham, Ill. While pulling a load in July 2017, she hit a bump and fell out of the forklift onto the floor. The forklift continued moving and ran over her leg and seriously injured her; eventually her leg had to be amputated.

Anderson brought a diversity suit against the forklift’s manufacturer, The Raymond Corp., alleging that the forklift was negligently designed. The jury trial ended in a verdict in favor of defendant Raymond.

Anderson appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Southern District of Illinois.

The appeals court ruled that the United States District Court in the Southern District of Illinois had erred in denying Anderson’s motion for a new trial. Her motion was based on a claim that the district court erred in excluding the opinion of her expert witness. The witness’s opinion, which was withheld from the jury, was that the defendant’s forklift was negligently designed because Raymond chose not to include a standard featured door to enclose an operating compartment.

Anderson’s expert witness was Dr. John Meyer. As trial approached, the parties filed dueling motions over the admissibility of the testimony of Meyer, who said he believed that Raymond could have made several changes to its design that would have prevented Anderson’s injuries. Meyer’s primary suggestion was that Raymond equip each of its forklifts with a door to enclose the operating compartment, which would prevent operators like Anderson from falling into the forklift’s path.

The district court had held that the plaintiffs’ expert opinion about the absence of the door was inadmissible because it did not satisfy Federal Rule of Evidence 702. The court also ruled that the expert’s opinion did not satisfy the test set forth in Daubert, 509 U.S. 579,  which found that the expert’s testimony was admissible where:

[1] The expert had extensive training and experience in failure analysis.

[2] The expert’s methodology in visiting the accident site and reviewing the forklift data was scientifically valid. The fact that the expert’s opinion had been rejected in other cases did not require a different result.

Accordingly, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Southern District of Illinois reversed and vacated the jury’s verdict and trial court’s ruling in part and remanded the case back to the court for further consideration.

Anderson v. The Raymond Corp., No. 22-1872 (Feb. 1, 2023) S.D.Ill.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling catastrophic injury lawsuits, workplace injury cases, forklift injury lawsuits, construction injury lawsuits, truck accident cases, and auto accident cases 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 Melrose Park, Park Ridge, Forest Park, Crestwood, Calumet City, Hinsdale, Waukegan, Joliet, Romeoville, Winnetka, Hoffman Estates, South Holland, Chicago (Bronzeville, Edgewater, Rogers Park, Uptown, Wrigleyville, Chinatown, Avalon Park), Des Plaines, Niles and Evanston, Ill.

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

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