RV worker paralyzed on job can’t pursue product liability claim

March 13, 2018

An installer of “slide-out” box units on recreational vehicles who was partially paralyzed after one of the units fell from an RV and onto his back cannot sue under the Indiana Product Liability Act, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Tuesday.

The appellate court affirmed an Elkhart Superior Court ruling in Matthew Davis v. Lippert Components Manufacturing, Inc., 20A03-1710-CT-2435. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Lippert on Davis’ claim.

Davis worked at Evergreen Recreational Vehicles in Elkhart where a slide-out box he was installing on a unit fell out, injuring him. In suing Lippert, the maker of the slide-out box, he alleged the company was liable for a design defect that made it “unreasonably dangerous for its reasonably foreseeable uses.”

But like the trial court, the Court of Appeals held that Davis was not an “user” or “consumer” who could obtain relief in this case through the IPLA.

“To conclude otherwise would controvert the exclusivity of the remedy provided to employees like Davis in the Workers Compensation System,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote for the panel. “It would also place ultimate purchasers of a trailer or recreational vehicle in a position where their two-year time statute of limitations period to bring a claim under the IPLA would be dependent on the delivery date of a component part to a manufacturer, and not on the delivery date of the finished product to the consumer.”


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