Chelcher v. Spider Staging Corp.

892 F. Supp. 710 (D.V.I. 1995)



For the purpose reviewing a motion for summary judgment on a strict liability claim, a court must determine if a genuine issue of fact exists regarding whether (1) a manufacturer's product was manufactured in a defective condition (2) such that it was unreasonably dangerous to the user and whether it (3) was the factual and proximate (legal) cause of injury (4) without having been substantially changed from the condition in which it was sold. Additionally, the court must consider whether a genuine issue of fact exists regarding the manufacturer's claimed defenses to liability.


Plaintiff worker was injured while using one of the manufacturer's scaffolds in his sandblasting work. The worker sustained permanent damage to his lower back due to the mis-rigging of the scaffold, of which the worker was aware, but he continued to work despite his pain. The worker and his family brought an action against the defendant manufacturer. The worker and his family alleged loss of consortium, strict products liability, and negligent failure to warn. Both parties filed full or partial motions for summary judgment. The court granted the manufacturer's motion for summary judgment.


Did a genuine issue of fact exist with respect to defendant's claimed defenses to liability?




The risk of working while in obvious pain on the mis-rigged scaffold. By doing so the worker consented to the consequential injuries that he sustained and waived the manufacturer's liability for any dangers allegedly caused by the scaffold. The court found that evidence of an instruction manual missing from the scaffold was not sufficient to establish a product defect claim and was not the cause-in-fact or proximate cause of the worker's injuries. The court held that the manufacturer was not negligent under either strict liability or negligence theories and that the worker failed to provide evidence that the manufacturer had a duty to warn of any dangers, that it breached that duty, or that the worker's injuries were proximately caused by the breach.

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