7th Circuit reinstates mechanics’ claims of faulty trailer-support design

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Complaints for damages from two mechanics that were injured by a semi trailer they were working on were partially reinstated Friday by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

John Moore and Scott Weigle were hurt when a semi truck trailer fell on them from a support stand manufactured by SPX Corp. They sued under the Indiana Product Liability Act, claiming deficient design and inadequate warnings on the supports.

Judge Larry McKinney of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana granted summary judgment in favor of SPX on all claims, but the 7th Circuit reversed in part.

“We affirm the district court’s judgments on the inadequate warnings claims, but we vacate the judgments on the defective design claims and remand for further proceedings,” Circuit Judge John Tinder wrote for the court in Scott Weigle and April Weigle v. SPX Corp.
12-3024, and John Moore, II and Corinne Moore v. SPX Corp.,12-3025.

Tinder wrote that the District Court didn’t address the sufficiency of Weigle and Moore’s evidence on their defective design claim and should not have been disposed of through summary judgment.

“A reasonable fact finder could determine from Weigle’s and Moore’s designated evidence that the SPX support stands at issue were in a defective condition that was unreasonably dangerous. That the SPX support stands differ from most (if not all) others on the market ... tends to show that their design is not contemplated by reasonable persons among those considered expected users,” Tinder wrote, noting there also is some dispute as to whether the product meets accepted industry standards.


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