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Product liability - Alleged design defect and manufacturing defect in six-foot fiberglass step ladder - Claimed inappropriate shoulder bolt - Fall from ladder - Ankle fracture with multiple surgeries.

U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida

The plaintiff claimed that a six-foot fiberglass step ladder manufactured by the defendant, Louisville Ladder Group, and sold by the co-defendant Home Depot, was dangerously defective and caused her to fall. The plaintiff alleged that the ladder contained both a manufacturing and a design defect. The defendants denied that the ladder was defective and maintained that the fall was caused by the plaintiff’s failure to use the ladder in a safe manner.

The plaintiff testified that she was on a new six-foot Davidson ladder, when the ladder collapsed, causing her to fall. The plaintiff contended that a shoulder bolt was inadequate to secure the top cap of the ladder and the cap became loose permitting the ladder to collapse. A shoulder bolt is a bolt which is threaded only half-way up the shaft of the bolt.

The plaintiff’s mechanical engineer opined that a rivet would have been a safer fastening device for the ladder. The plaintiff also contended that the ladder was sold with the shoulder bolt in a loose condition (a manufacturing defect).

The plaintiff sustained an ankle fracture as a result of the fall. She underwent multiple surgeries, including an ankle fusion.

The defendant contended that the shoulder bolt was an appropriate fastener for the top cap of the ladder and that the bolt became loose after the plaintiff’s accident.

The defense contended that the fall resulted from the plaintiff’s own negligence in failing to properly use the ladder. The defense argued that the plaintiff’s trial testimony was inconsistent with her prior deposition testimony regarding the facts leading to the fall.

The jury found for the defendants on all counts.

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