PA’s Highest Court Allows Reckless Conduct Defense in Products Cases.

In the case of Reott, et al. v. Asia Trend, et al., the plaintiff took a Remington tree stand and utilized a “ladder stick” to climb twenty to twenty-five feet to install the stand in a “suitable” tree.  He placed the stand in the tree and cinched the locking strap around the tree trunk.  Unfortunately, when he attempted to climb down the tree, the locking strap broke and he fell to the ground thereby suffering crushed vertebrae and a fractured wrist.  The installation of the stand in the tree was contrary to all acceptable “tree strand” usage and the defendants pleaded reckless conduct as an affirmative defense.

On appeal Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court was faced with the question of “whether a defendant in a products liability action must plead and prove as an affirmative defense that an injured party’s alleged “highly reckless conduct” was the sole or superseding cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.”  The Court, in a binding and precedential decision, ruled that the answer is “yes.”  The good news in this decision is that it gives defendants in a products case a way, albeit a difficult way, to get out from strict liability.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Bob Cosgrove at rcosgrove@wcmlaw.com.