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Vautour v. Body Masters Sports Industries, Inc.

    Brief Fact Summary.

    David Vatour sued Body Masters Sports Industries, Incorporated after being injured using a leg press machine.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A plaintiff in a design defect case is required to prove that there is an alternative design that is more suitable for the product.

    Facts.

    David Vautour (Vatour) was injured while using a leg press machine from Body Masters Sports Industries, Incorporated (Body Masters). Vautour sued Body Masters and at trial, an expert testified that the machine was defective as-is and proposed a design that would protect the safety of consumers. The lower court granted judgment in favor of Body Masters because Vautour’s expert failed to prove how the proposed design would prevent the injuries that were experienced by Vautour. Vautour appealed on the basis that he was not responsible for submitting an alternative design for the product.

    Issue.

    Whether a plaintiff in a design defect case is required to prove that there is an alternative design that is more suitable for the product?

    Held.

    No. Reversed and remanded.

    Discussion.

    To support a products liability claim, a plaintiff must prove: (1) That the product’s design was defective and is dangerous to consumers; (2) the defect existed at the time the consumer purchased the product; (3) the use of the product was foreseeable by the manufacturer; (4) the defect caused injury to the consumer. Although the Restatement (Third) of Torts requires a plaintiff to prove that an alternative design for the product will increase the safety of the consumer, a proposal for an alternative design is not a requirement in each design defect case. Vautour’s expert testified that the machine’s defects were dangerous to consumers and proposed a design that would be safer to consumers. It is up to the jury to decide if the machine is unreasonably dangerous using the evidence provided in the case.


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