Sears is under fire from the family of a man who says that the retailer sold their family member a faulty car jack stand that allowed a car to fall on him and crush him to death. Connecticut federal judge Jeffrey Meyer denied Sears’ motion to dismiss the wrongful death products liability suit. The suit involves the death of Christian Klorczyk, Jr. who was working beneath a BMW sedan in his family’s garage when the jack stand he was using to hold the vehicle up failed, dropping the car on top of him.
Sears, through its attorneys, denies that the victim, in this case, was using its jack stand. The company’s attorneys also say that even if the product was in use at the time of the accident, the stand itself was not defective, and they say there’s no proof of a defect.
Despite consumer laws, harmful products make it onto the market all the time. Contact our Los Angeles product liability attorney if you have been injured by a faulty product.
Prior to Meyer’s ruling, an expert in the use of jack stands, Frederick Heath, testified that the jack stand likely experienced what is known as false engagement. False engagement is a phenomenon that occurs when the jack’s locking pawl or stopper and the ratchet bar are insecure, which allows an outside force to cause the bar to slip out of position, collapsing back into the stand’s base. This can cause whatever is lifted by the ratchet to fall.
Sears attempted to have Heath’s testimony stricken from the record, citing his lack of experience in accident reconstruction. The judge allowed the testimony to stand, noting that Heath has a mechanical engineering degree and has provided expert testimony and consulting engineering services for 20 years, making him qualified to provide his expert opinion.
Sears presented its own expert to refute the claim. James Sprague testified that instead of the jack stand failing, the victim in this case lifted the car with the floor jack only. The floor jack subsequently slipped and fell, evidenced by scrape marks along the side of the vehicle, according to Sprague.
In his ruling, Judge Meyer noted that this was not the first time that these Sears jack stands have been the source of an investigation. He noted that “A jury could reasonably find that defendants consciously ignored the jack stand’s risks.” The judge was not persuaded by Sears’ claims that there were no grounds for the award of punitive damages, and he rejected Sears’ motion for summary judgment under the Connecticut Products Liability Act.
The outcome of this case is yet to be determined, but cases involving dangerous products work their way through the system all the time. As a consumer, you have a right to believe that the products that you purchase are safe for use. When you are harmed by a product, you may have grounds to seek damages by filing a personal injury claim against the manufacturer, seller, or marketer of the product. Our Los Angeles product liability attorney can help. Give JML Law a call now to discuss your case at 818-610-8800.