Rhinestone Jeans: Fashion Statement or Product Defect (NY)

In Menna v. Walmart, the infant plaintiff purchased jeans from Walmart with decorative rhinestones. The rhinestones were held in place by metal fasteners inside the jeans. When the infant plaintiff tripped and fell, a metal fastener cut her knee. The plaintiff sued Walmart asserting causes of action for strict products liability, breach of express and implied warranty, and negligent manufacturing.

Although the court dismissed most of plaintiff’s causes of action, it found an issue of fact as to whether the jeans were defectively designed. In order to prevail on a motion for summary judgment to dismiss a cause of action for design defect, a defendant must show that the product’s “utility outweighs its inherent danger and demonstrate through expert testimony that it was not feasible to design a safer, similarly effective and reasonably priced product. In Menna, the defendant not only failed to submit an affidavit from an expert, but an employee for Walmart stated in an affidavit that the rhinestones could have been affixed through a heat seal instead of a metal fastener.

Special thanks to Gabe Darwick for this contribution.

For more information, contact Denise Fontana Ricci at dricci@wcmlaw.com.