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Products Liability Law
“taking into consideration such factors as the intended use of the product, its styling, cost, and desirability, its safety aspects, the foreseeability of the particular accident, the likelihood of injury, and the probable seriousness of the injury if that accident occurred, the obviousness of the defect, and the manufacturer’s ability to eliminate the defect, the utility of the alternative design outweighed the utility of the design actually used.” General Motors Corp. v. Jernigan, 883 So. 2d 646 (Ala. 2003). This language is quite similar to the LPLA language relied on by Judge Vance in granting summary judgment in the Vallee matter.
In Texas, “to recover for a products liability claim alleging a design defect, a plaintiff must prove that (1) the product was defectively designed so as to render it unreasonably dangerous, (2) a safer alternative design existed, and (3) the defect was a producing cause of the injury for which the plaintiff seeks recovery.” Timpte Indus., Inc. v. Gish, 286 S.W.3d 306, 311 (Tex.2009). Thus, a similar summary judgment motion would be viable under Texas law, as well. And in many other states (such as Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Wisconsin), while the law is not quite as clear as it is in Louisiana, Alabama, and Texas, there is nonetheless case law indicating that a similar result could be viable under certain circumstances.
If your case involves a design defect claim and the plaintiff has failed to propose a reasonable alternative design for your product, you now know what to do! First, put the summary judgment deadline on your calendar immediately; second, research your jurisdiction’s laws on the prima facie showing required of a plaintiff asserting a design defect claim; and third, begin analyzing the ways in which you can establish the impossibility of meeting that burden under the law of the jurisdiction.
Kelly Brilleaux is a Partner at Irwin Fritchie Urquhart Moore & Daniels, LLC, in New Orleans, LA. Contact her at:

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