Hong Jin Crown America Wins Summary Judgment in Wrongful Death Case

Lightfoot lawyers recently obtained summary judgment on behalf of a national motorcycle helmet distributor, a national motorcycle helmet marketing company, and a local motorsports retail establishment in a wrongful death product liability case in Bessemer, Alabama. The plaintiff was the late husband of a woman who died from head and brain injuries she suffered as a result of striking her head on the ground after being ejected from the couple’s motorcycle during a high speed accident. The plaintiff chose not to sue the foreign helmet manufacturer, and instead brought suit against the domestic distributor, domestic marketing company, and the local retail seller of the helmet under Alabama’s product liability statute, the Alabama Extended Manufacturer’s Liability Doctrine (AEMLD). The plaintiff alleged that the helmet was defectively designed and lacked adequate cushioning and lining to protect the wearer’s head from injury during a crash. Lightfoot moved for summary judgment based on the affirmative defense of a lack of causal relation between those defendants’ connection with the helmet and the design defects alleged by the plaintiff. After conceding the defense’s applicability as to the marketing company, the plaintiff opposed the defense as to the distributor and the retail store by arguing that federal importer regulations and cursory pre-sale inspections subjected each of them, respectively, to liability for the product’s allegedly defective condition. The Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Alabama rejected Plaintiff’s argument and ruled in the defendants’ favor, finding that under the AEMLD a non-manufacturer whose handling of an allegedly defective product bore no relationship to the defects as alleged by a plaintiff could not be held liable for those alleged defects. Harlan Prater, Kevin Clark, JT Thompson, and Marchello Gray represented the defendants.