Girardi | Keese

Parents of injured boy push for design-defect lawsuit

Hearing stories about people getting injured because of design defects is never easy, especially when those victims are children. For readers here in California, it doesn't matter what state the design defect occurred, only that the victim's receive compensation for any injuries it may have caused them. This will likely be the feeling now among our readers after they read about the recent case out of New Jersey this month.

The case began just after the parents purchased a Kawasaki motorcycle for their son nearly three years ago. But when the minor child first rode the motorcycle, the bike crashed, leaving the boy with serious and permanent injuries in return. The parents finally were able to file a federal complaint nearly two years later, but met resistance from the manufacturers of the bike.

Although the parents cited in their lawsuit that negligent assembly of the throttle mechanism resulted in the crash, the authorized dealer that runs the shop from which the parents bought the bike claimed that the court did not have enough personal jurisdiction to hold them liable. A U.S. District Court judge disagreed however, stating that although the dealer was based in Delaware, the company still had ties to the state where the accident took place and could therefore be held liable for the design defect.

As readers of our blog can tell you, companies based in a different state from where accidents take place will often try to get out of liability situations like this by trying to assert that the jurisdiction of one state does not apply to them. But as it should be pointed out, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided that if a party has had contact with persons inside the territory of the court, then that party can be subject to the personal jurisdiction of that court. This might be very good news to the family of the injured child because this might mean compensation in the end if they win their case.

Sources: Courthouse News, "Bike Dealer Must Face Suit on Christmas Crash," Rose Bouboushian, Aug. 8, 2013, "Jurisdiction"

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