Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Western District Court of Pennsylvania Addresses Admissibility of Contributory Negligence Evidence in Products Liability Case

In the products liability case of McDaniel v. Kidde Residential & Commercial, 2015 US Dist. Lexis 139905 (W.D. Pa. Oct. 14, 2015 Fisher, J.), the court granted a defense Motion In Limine seeking to introduce evidence of the Plaintiff’s negligent conduct in a case involving a house fire.

The court ruled that, in a product liability action involving negligence, all evidence of Plaintiff’s causative conduct relative to the start of the fire, or conduct during the fire, is admissible to establish a comparative negligence claim.

In the strict liability context, the background information pertaining to the Plaintiff’s actions in creating the fire at issue are highly relevant to disputed issues, particularly the causation issue.

The court ruled that the Plaintiff’s conduct in moving a burning item is relevant to the assumption of risk allegation. The court also found that the evidence was admissible, at least in the negligence claim, as being relevant to the Defendant’s mitigation of damages defense.

The court also otherwise ruled that the Defendants have a right to impeach the Plaintiff’s testimony as to how the accident occurred with the evidence in question.

This decision can be viewed online HERE

I send thanks to Attorney James Beck of the Philadelphia office of Reed Smith for bringing this case to my attention.

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