San Diego Team Obtains Defense Verdict in Products Liability Matter

August 30, 2022

San Diego Partner Amy L. Frerich and Associate Mason Smith recently secured a defense verdict on behalf of a shopping cart manufacturer, following a heavily contested two-week jury trial.

San Diego, Calif. (August 30, 2022) - San Diego Partner Amy L. Frerich and Associate Mason Smith recently secured a defense verdict on behalf of a shopping cart manufacturer, following a two-week jury trial.

The Underlying Case

In the underlying case, the plaintiff, a six-year-old child, was using a child-sized shopping cart while shopping alongside his mom and brother at a local grocer. The plaintiff was using the cart without proper supervision from his mother, which led to the plaintiff trying to “Superman” on the cart while his mother was not watching. The plaintiff’s extraordinary misuse caused the cart to tip, which resulted in injury to the child’s finger.

Trial Testimony

Throughout trial, the plaintiff argued the child-sized shopping cart was defectively designed and that the manufacturer was negligent in servicing and maintaining the cart pre-incident. The Lewis Brisbois team argued that the plaintiff’s mother failed to supervise the plaintiff, which resulted in the plaintiff misusing the cart in a highly extraordinary way, which resulted in injury.

The plaintiff contended he suffered physical and emotional injury, claiming he was made fun of, suffered from nightmares, and was unable to return to playing sports in the same manner he had participated pre-injury. The Lewis Brisbois team countered these arguments by presenting evidence subpoenaed from a reality TV show reflecting the plaintiff rough housing, laughing, and playing sports without difficulty shortly after the incident.

In his attempt to attack the design of the shopping cart, the plaintiff hired a well-known plaintiff’s expert to talk about the cart’s susceptibility to tipping. The expert's testimony was generally unreliable and without basis and a majority of his proffered testimony and opinions were excluded by the court pre-trial following Lewis Brisbois’ successful argument to preclude.

In response to the plaintiff’s expert, the Lewis Brisbois team presented testimony from the president of the manufacturing company, who is a third generation owner. The president presented comprehensive, persuasive testimony about the design, manufacture, and testing of the carts, effectively establishing the cart was safe when used as intended, and that it did not suffer any defect.

The heavily contested trial lasted two weeks. The jury, after deliberating for only an hour, found that the plaintiff’s injuries were solely a result of his extraordinary misuse of the cart, finding no design defect or negligence on the part of the cart manufacturer.

Ms. Frerich is a member of the firm's General Liability and Consumer Warranty Practices. She has over a decade of trial experience, trying over 50 cases through verdict, and focuses her practice on general liability, insurance defense, product defect, and personal injury defense actions. 

Mr. Smith a member of the firm's Consumer Warranty and General Liability Practices. His practice focuses on civil litigation and includes the handling of products liability and consumer warranty matters.