Product Liability

By Sawyer, Thomas H. | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, February 2000 | Go to article overview

Product Liability


Sawyer, Thomas H., JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


Michael D. Trost v. Trek Bicycle Corporation

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, December 23, 1998

162 F.3d 1004; 1998 U.S. App. LEXIS 31734

Michael Trost brought action against the manufacturer of his all-terrain bicycle, Trek Bicycle Corporation, for product liability and breach of warranty. Trost claimed that a design defect in the bicycle caused an accident, which resulted in injuries to his head, neck, and face. Trost sustained the injuries when he was riding his bicycle home from work on July 25, 1996. He was riding on a path beside a ditch when the front end of his bicycle suddenly dropped. As a result of this unexpected drop, Trost was thrown over the handlebars and knocked unconscious. The cause of the drop was thought to be a fracture in the top tube of the frame near the steering tube of the bicycle. The manufacturer asked for a summary judgement, which the court granted. The court found in favor of the manufacturer on the basis of the defendant's expert witness and the fact that Trost filed his expert witness's evidence after the appropriate deadline. The appeals court affirmed.

The Complaint

The plaintiff claimed product liability against the manufacturer based on design defect, manufacturing defect, and breach of warranty.

The Findings in the Case

Trost's expert witness's findings could not be considered because they were filed after the deadline. Yet even if they could have been considered, they would not have shown prima facie in the case against the manufacturer.

Summary judgement was appropriate based on the facts that were presented to the court due to genuine issues.

Verdict of the Court

The verdict was based on the testimony of the defendant's expert witness (Gerald Bretting, an accident reconstructionist expert), who examined the bicycle in question and the site where the accident occurred. Bretting found that it was not a manufacturer's defect but the path itself that caused the accident. According to Bretting's analysis, the path's downward slope and the abrupt stopping of the front wheel caused the accident, which would have happened even if the top tube of the frame had been perfectly sound. …

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