The Miami firm of Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell won a significant defense verdict in late April on behalf of a ladder maker in a product liability case. Partner Scott M. Sarason and associate Jens C. Ruiz represented the defendant, Louisville Ladder, Inc. in relation to the related to the design of a 16’ extension ladder in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida – Miami Division.

In October 2015, plaintiff Jorge Morejon fell as he was transporting from the roof of a residence he was working on to a 16’ extension ladder manufactured by Louisville Ladder. The subject ladder was gifted to Morejon six years earlier and was used by him numerous times prior to the date of the incident. Morejon’s doctor opined that he would need a total hip replacement in the future due to his hip injury. Plaintiff’s medical bills amounted to approximately $300,000.

Morejon filed suit alleging that Louisville Ladder failed to adequately warn him on its proper use and that it was defective and unreasonably dangerous in its design, in addition to other claims. The plaintiff sought $3.1 million in damages.

Sarason and Ruiz moved for partial summary judgment on Plaintiff’s failure to warn claim, which was granted by the Court. The basis for the summary judgment was that the warnings and instructions were adequate, and Plaintiff read the ladder’s warnings and instructions but did not rely on them to use the ladder. Louisville Ladder also moved to exclude Plaintiff’s liability expert’s opinions under Daubert, which was granted in part by the Court. In granting Louisville Ladder’s Daubert motion, the Court prohibited Plaintiff’s liability expert from discussing the adequacy of the ladder’s warning and instructions and opining about an alternative “walk-through” design for the subject ladder.

At trial, Sarason and Ruiz presented evidence that the subject extension ladder was neither defective nor unreasonably dangerous in design. The ladder complied with all ANSI standards and governmental regulations and further had not been subject to a recall. They proved that evidence showed that the incident was the result of Morejon’s own failure to ensure that the ladder was secure prior to using it or the result of his loss of balance.

The case was Jorge Morejon v. Louisville Ladder Case No.: 17-22558-CIV.

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