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In applying the risk-utility analysis under the Louisiana Products Liability Act, a plaintiff must show evidence concerning the frequency of accidents like his own, the economic costs entailed by those accidents, or the extent of the reduction in frequency of those accidents that would have followed on the use of his proposed alternative design.
Robert Krummel and his wife, Patricia Krummel, brought an admiralty and maritime claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(h), alleging violations of the Louisiana Products Liability Act (LPLA) against Bombardier Corp. and Bombardier, Inc. ("Bombardier") for damages resulting from Robert Krummel's injuries while using a Bombardier personal watercraft. They alleged that the watercraft was unreasonably dangerous and Bombardier failed to warn them of these dangers. After a bench trial, the district court held that Bombardier did not defectively design the watercraft; however, Bombardier failed to provide warnings regarding use of the watercraft. The court awarded damages. Bombardier appealed arguing that the district court erred in finding it had a duty to warn.
Did the district court err in articulating the proper legal standard under the LPLA?
The court held the district court erred in articulating the proper legal standard under the LPLA. The court held a risk-utility analysis was required under the LPLA. The district court found liability based solely on the fact that an injury occurred, and did not properly apply risk-utility analysis. The district court heard no expert testimony regarding the risk the watercraft created. The Krummels provided no evidence of the frequency of accidents involving the watercraft in question.