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Laird, Mercure, Hansen Obtain Reversal on Product Liability Appeal against Skirt Manufacturer


The plaintiff sued for personal injuries after she was badly burned when the dress and skirt she was wearing caught fire while she was standing near a propane heater.  The plaintiff alleged that the skirt, dress, and heater all contained manufacturing defects.  The manufacturer of the heater retained Edward Laird, Thomas Mercure, and Jonathan Hansen as appellate counsel after the plaintiff’s claim for design defect against the manufacturer of the skirt was dismissed.  The skirt manufacturer had been granted summary judgment on the basis that it was not the manufacturer as a matter of law. 

On appeal to the Appellate Division, Third Department, Laird, Mercure and Hansen successfully argued that questions of fact existed as to whether the alleged manufacturer of the skirt was the manufacturer by focusing on the existence of a product label on the remains of the skirt that positively identified the alleged manufacturer, and by casting doubt on the adequacy of the alleged manufacturer’s database records. 

Laird, Mercure, and Hansen also successfully argued that questions of fact existed as to whether the skirt was defectively designed by highlighting expert proof which demonstrated that the skirt was not reasonably safe for consumers because it ignited too quickly and burned too readily and that it did not contain a warning label.

As a result, the Appellate Division reversed the Order of summary judgment in favor of the skirt manufacturer, allowing Carter Conboy’s client to pursue an allocation of fault against the skirt manufacturer at trial.