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G'Francisco v. Gofit, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

March 31, 2015

MARK A. G'FRANCISCO,
v.
GOFIT, LLC, et al.

MEMORANDUM

TODD J. CAMPBELL, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants GoFit, LLC and Bob Harper Enterprises (Docket No. 68). For the reasons stated herein, Defendants' Motion is DENIED.

FACTS

Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Docket No. 40) alleges strict liability, breaches of warranties and negligence under Tennessee law arising from Plaintiff's use of a Bob Harper 15-30 pound GoFit Multiple Strength Powerband ("the Product"). Plaintiff alleges that, on October 4, 2012, he attached the door anchor of the Product to the bottom of a door and began to exercise with the Powerband. Plaintiff asserts that the door anchor of the Product suddenly and without warning recoiled, and the door anchor violently struck Plaintiff in the eye, causing permanent injury.

The Amended Complaint alleges that Defendants designed, manufactured, marketed and sold the Product in a defective, unsafe and unreasonably dangerous condition. Plaintiff contends that the Product had inadequate warnings, that Defendants were negligent, and that Defendants breached express and implied warranties with regard to the Product. Plaintiff claims both compensatory and punitive damages for his injuries in this case.

Defendants have moved for summary judgment on all of Plaintiff's claims, arguing that (1) any alleged danger inherent in the Product was open and obvious to an ordinary user, (2) the warnings on the Product were adequate as a matter of law, (3) Plaintiff cannot prove that any defect in the Product's warnings caused his injury, and (4) Plaintiff was more than 50% at fault for his injuries.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The party bringing the summary judgment motion has the initial burden of informing the Court of the basis for its motion and identifying portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute over material facts. Rodgers v. Banks, 344 F.3d 587, 595 (6th Cir. 2003). The moving party may satisfy this burden by presenting affirmative evidence that negates an element of the non-moving party's claim or by demonstrating an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Id .

In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court must review all the evidence, facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Van Gorder v. Grand Trunk Western Railroad, Inc., 509 F.3d 265, 268 (6th Cir. 2007). The Court does not, however, weigh the evidence, judge the credibility of witnesses, or determine the truth of the matter. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). The Court determines whether sufficient evidence has been presented to make the issue of fact a proper jury question. Id. The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmoving party's position will be insufficient to survive summary judgment; rather, there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the nonmoving party. Rodgers, 344 F.3d at 595.

PRODUCTS LIABILITY

Under the Tennessee Products Liability Act of 1978, a "products liability action" includes all of Plaintiff's claims herein, because it includes all actions based upon the following theories: strict liability in tort, negligence, breach of warranties, and failure to warn. Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-28-102 (6). A manufacturer or seller of a product shall not be liable for any injury caused by a product unless the product is determined to be in a defective condition[1] or unreasonably dangerous[2] at the time it left the control of the manufacturer or seller. Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-18-105(a).

Open and Obvious Danger

A product is not unreasonably dangerous because of a failure to adequately warn of a danger or hazard that is apparent to the ordinary user. Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-28-105(d). Defendants argue that this alleged danger was apparent to the ordinary user and, therefore, Defendants had no duty to warn of it. Defendants claim that they were entitled to rely on the common sense and good judgment of an ordinary person using the Product.

Plaintiff (citing Defendants' expert, among other things) argues that his particular use of the Product was not obviously dangerous. Whether the alleged danger was apparent to an ordinary user is a question of fact as to which the parties obviously disagree. The Court cannot find, as a matter of law, that ...


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