Thursday, September 9, 2010

New SC Products Liability Case: Holst v. KCI Konecranes International Corporation

Yesterday, the South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in Holst v. KCI Konecranes International Corporation, Opinion Number 4736 (Sept. 9, 2010), which can be found here. I have not yet read it in its entirety, but the case involved a man's death when he was crushed under some containers that were being stacked by a crane. The plaintiff alleged that the crane was defective because of visibility limitations from the crane's cab.

At the circuit level, KCI filed a motion for summary judgment on grounds that there were no genuine issues of material facts as to the claimed defective and unreasonably dangerous condition of the crane. KCI asserted asserted additional grounds for summary judgment including comparative negligence and assumption of the risk. In addition to visibility limitations, Holst proposed mounting a closed-circuit video camera on the edge of the crane's trolley as a feasible design alternative to increase the operator's visibility. Holst also argued KCI failed to warn crane users about the crane's sight limitations. The circuit court granted summary judgment, and determined Holst's defective design and failure to warn claims failed as a matter of law.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision, and a quick reading indicates that the Court focused on the failure of plaintiff's experts to incorporate the risk-utility test into their analysis. There is also discussion of industry standards, the fault analysis in a negligence theory, and plaintiff's warnings claim. I will try an get a brief up in the next few days, but this looks like an interesting case.

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